Living in monotonous doldrums, only finding solace in sleep. The eyes close and DEVIL GIRL CHOKES YOU AWAKE! NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!
…Hypnophobia is the third film from Scranton horrorist Adam Dunning. This psychodrama follows a tormented mental patient and her doctor as they attempt to solve her psychosis. Every night, Sam is visited by a mutilated child bombarding her with cryptic messages. Dr. Peters tries to prove that her nightmares are unfounded, chaos ensues. The film is a mixed bag. It’s good story is mired with subpar presentation.
Hypnophobia has a few technical issues. The audio suffers from excessive clipping at louder moments and seems distant during quiet scenes. This disengages the viewer from the atmosphere and narrative. Next, cinematography… The camera often shifts focal length mid-shot. This technique might work in an experimental film, but it feels sloppy for a narrative, as if the shots weren’t adequately planned. The visuals have little cinematic appeal. Everything is in focus, little stands out. Dslrs provide serious depth of field, however, the shot choices favor a VHS video aesthetic. Also, Sam has an awfully nice manicure for a mental patient. We find the acting decent. The Rovins give tolerable performances. Ron Muir’s dejected cynicism provides a needed catharsis midway through.
The narrative suffers from too much exposition. The set up happens through a lengthy dialogue in the first minutes of the film. We know everything that’s happening and why. Normally, the viewer attaches to film characters from their behaviors and actions, not their words. This would be more effective if told through visuals. Even if we didn’t know what was going on at that moment, we’d find out soon enough and would be more invested because of it. .
To its credit, Hypnophobia uses an awesome location and an equally effective establishing shot. The dismal color palette sets the mood well. The overbearing whites and greys of the mental hospital trap us in stagnation. The characters’ clothes offer the only color splashes. The film’s shorter length shaves off much unnecessary dialogue present in Dunning’s earlier works. We feel Hypnophobia is a definite step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing Dunning’s future projects. We give this a 3-MB FLOPPY.
Hypnophobia will be screening soon, in the meantime, you can check out the trailer here:
The full short film: