The Hypnotic Eye Review


Well, it’s time for a film about hypnosis and as I always chuckle at the concept it means that I have a hard time taking the villain here seriously. Every hypnosis I’ve ever seen in real life has been woefully underwhelming and ineffective. So in a film I’m just trying to tell the characters to stand their ground but in the end they just end up getting wrecked all the same. Throw in the fact that all of the characters make a lot of iffy decisions here and things don’t end well for them.

The film starts with a lady effectively committing suicide by burning her head and we find out that she is just the latest in a string of victims like this. The only common element is that they were all women. All of them seemed to not know what they were doing until it was too late. Dave’s been on the case for a while but he just can’t figure out what is going on here. On a completely unrelated note, there is a new hypnotist in town who has been really impressing the masses with his skills.

He only performs tricks on women and can use hypnosis to have them perform fantastic feats. Dave doesn’t believe in this nonsense though so when his girlfriend Marcia has him take her to a show he is bored beyond belief. After Marcia’s friend Dodie is used for one of the tests and commits an act of terror against herself, Marcia is convinced that the hypnotist Desmond is to blame. The trick is that she will need to prove it and of course Dave isn’t buying into it. Will she be able to stop him?

There are a lot of things to be annoyed about in this film. One of those things is certainly that Dave isn’t piecing the puzzle together or even trying to. Now I get why he is skeptical of the hypnotism itself since I don’t buy into it but when the bodies start piling up then you have to make a move. Maybe he’s using some kind of trick or blackmail but it does seem obvious that Desmond is at the center of this. Instead Dave prefers to be rather passive about the whole thing.

He also doesn’t trust Marcia much at all. Her plan is to allow herself to get hypnotized (Or at least appear to be) while Dave and Philip watch over her from afar. The problem is that since Dave believes there is no chance she could be mind controlled, he just thinks she is cheating on him and quickly jumps to conclusions. He even wanted to abandon her in Desmond’s house because of this apparent betrayal and his friend Philip has to talk him out of this.

Later on Philip heads home to play the piano though and Dave leaves anyway. These two are absolutely the last people you would want to have your back because they really didn’t. Marcia easily could have died in the time it took to actually get serious about this and came very close to that point. It was more luck than anything that saved her in this film so Dave loses a tremendous amount of points. When your skepticism interferes with your job then you know it’s gone too far.

I also have to take points away from Philip. At least he believed Marcia a lot sooner but he wasn’t really doing anything about it. Again, the guy went home to play the piano so that tells you the level of determination that he had. Meanwhile Marcia’s friend Dodie gets the short end of the stick. It’s always rough being the friend to the main characters because your odds aren’t great of making it to the end. In this case she has to go through quite a lot. Dodie was a nice character so it’s a shame that things didn’t go better for her.

Then we have Marcia who is a decent heroine. I do like that she was proactive about trying to stop Desmond but her plan was extremely risky. Much like how I don’t like the ole plan of “Lets get captured on purpose” putting herself in a position to be mind controlled does not seem worth it. This guy has seemingly mind controlled a ton of people over the years so what would make her so special? I just don’t think she thought this one through quite as much as she should have and ultimately it came back to bite her. She very nearly didn’t make it this time.

As for the villains, well Desmond is not impressive at all. There are some twists for his character and they just make him look worse and worse. The guy just could not keep up with the other characters and he’s not much of a mastermind. At least he does get a quick action scene where he tries to use the eye on Dave and Philip but they’re able to power through. That was the closest the film got to actually having a Shonen moment of breaking through with pure willpower.

As for Justine she’s another one of the villains and her motivations are rather petty the whole time. I won’t say why she wants to get rid of all the ladies but lets just say that it’s not a whole get rich quick scheme or trying to rule the world. It’s a much more personal angle and one where you realize that her goal will never be complete because there are too many targets.

The Hypnotic Eye really just ends up failing because the heroes take way too long to confront Desmond and the characters are annoying. Dave really shouldn’t be getting so jealous when Marcia keeps trying to say that there is mind control at play. Any and all affairs with Desmond are rather cringeworthy due to the hypnosis in effect. The heroes should have broken that up a lot sooner if you ask me.

It’s hard to even say this film is in any genre. Thriller and horror don’t quite work for me because the film is more on the low key side. The only intense moments are when we see the victims and realize that once again there has been a whole lot of damage already. Suspense might be the best genre to pick here I suppose. The writing’s not bad but I think the story needed some more elements here to keep the film interesting as well as to give a plausible reason for why Desmond could keep practicing in the state. Not believing in hypnosis just isn’t enough of a reason if you ask me considering how many people were dying mysteriously. That alone should have cancelled the shows for a while.

Overall, The Hypnotic Eye is a film you can safely skip. It doesn’t really bring anything to the table so by sidestepping it you will actually be doing yourself a favor. Hypnosis just doesn’t tend to make for a great plot device and the whole time you’ll be shaking your head at how slowly the characters make any progress here. The scene of the heroes heading home to play the piano and sulk is probably one of the most surreal moments in a while.

Overall 3/10

Devil Doll Review


Chucky’s not the only film with an evil doll. I saw The Devil Doll a while back so now it’s time for a film with a very similar name. The other one definitely had a lot more fun with the premise although this one plays it straight with actual shows on the dummy and a lot of ominous music. That said as you watch the film you have to decide if Hugo the dummy is the real threat or if something else is going on.

The film starts by introducing us to the great Vorelli and his dummy Hugo. They are quite famous nowadays with their ventriloquist shows. A local reporter named Mark is assigned to check this guy out and see if his hypnotism is for real. This guy’s not very smart so he brings his girlfriend Marianne to try this out. She ends up getting mind controlled on stage into a great dancer.

Now you may think that’s the end of it at least, but the reporter doesn’t believe it though and decides to push Marianne further by having her invite Vorelli to a party to stay the night. She reluctantly agrees after he keeps on insisting. Will this all turn out to be a huge mistake? One thing’s for sure, this is not going to be just any ole party.

Devil Doll definitely has a lot of ominous music even if it is the same track that plays over and over again. It’s an effective way to build up tension despite how overused it is and shows that the film isn’t playing around. It feels like half of Vorelli’s scenes are him staring into the camera as part of the hypnosis. Again, this makes the reporter look so bad since he knows something is fishy but puts Marianne in a bad position more than once.

I could have done without the mind control gimmick though. An evil doll/ventriloquist is already plenty of plot for any film. Do you also need this angle? Effectively Vorelli uses this to force an affair with Marianne and also enjoys his secretary. It’s definitely one way to show this guy as being a big villain but that’s definitely a plot that should have been removed. Not to mention that you should always be able to overpower mind control with pure willpower. Vorelli’s definitely got to be the worst character and as the movie goes on he hypnotizes people into doing more and more scandalous things.

As for Marianne, she’s okay I suppose but lets Mark push her around too push. She should have definitely said no to inviting Vorelli particularly since everyone is afraid of his hypnotism. It’s basically asking for trouble to have him around. It also would have been nice if she could have resisted he hypnotism or been able to tell someone when he was talking in her mind.

Then you have Hugo who doesn’t do anything for over half the film. That’s a long time with no action considering that the film is in theory based around his character. The thing is, the film’s title is a bit misleading. It should have been called the Hypnotist or something like that instead. That’s really what the film is about. Hugo does does have his own plan at the end and at least defeats someone but it’s more incidental than anything. If this was meant to be a red herring then it was effective.

That said, Hugo himself was not very smart at all. Why even let a hypnotists mess with you and a dummy? The whole thing seemed nefarious from the start so it’s no wonder that things finished the way that they did for him. Even allowing himself to be in a trick when the guy had a huge knife….all so risky. Of course, Vorelli isn’t the sharpest guy either so the tables tend to turn on him very quickly.

The writing for the film on the whole is pretty good with all of the retro dialogue and everything. It always makes for an engaging script but as a whole it couldn’t save this film. This film definitely seemed to be going for a much darker approach than most from this era. The whole hypnosis angle is really just an excuse to basically have Vorelli take advantage of everyone. The fact that Marianne is stuck in mind control for a good portion of the film by Vorelli just makes for a tiresome watch. You’re waiting for Hugo to take him out already.

Of course the reporter despite everything he knows from Hugo’s origin story to how Vorelli is acting like a hypnotist doesn’t suspect anything is up when Marianne says she will marry Vorelli. Why? Shouldn’t he suspect something or at least attack the guy? Instead he just goes to have a drink at the local bar so Hugo has to do all of the work in the climax. No worries, the reporter does return after everything is over. Why did Hugo wait so long before doing anything though? Maybe he’s not particularly powerful but he put up with a whole lot during the movie. All I can think of is perhaps the hypnosis was also working on him which is fairly embarrassing if that’s the case.

Overall, Devil Doll is not a film I would recommend. It’s one of those titles where the villain gets away with a little too much the whole time. Hypnosis can always be a rather dangerous plot element in that sense depending on how far they go with it. In this case it sours the whole experience. At least we did get an action fight scene with the Dummy though. There was a lot of actual back and forth with the characters swinging at each other. While Hugo appears as more of a hero by the end, he did straight up murder the assistant though who at best was an accomplice so there aren’t any real heroes here. Everyone is acting rather nefariously and for their own gains. Even the reporter put his story above Marianne’s safety. With nobody to root for, you almost wish Chucky had been here to put an end to things.

Overall 2/10

Upgrade Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

When you think of getting an upgrade you’re probably thinking of going from cheese fries to loaded at Checkers or maybe trading in your PS2 for a PS5. Well, here we take a more violent approach to the upgrade. The film tries a little too hard with making this as edgy as possible so while it’s a pretty good premise, it’s definitely not a film that will have you singing its praises by the end. Not every film can hit the winning home run though.

The movie starts with Grey finishing a car he had been fixing and Asha returning home from work. He wants her to see the eccentric house of the guy whose car he had fixed. It’s definitely an interesting one but on the way home her electronic car malfunctions and both of them crash. Asha ends up being murdered by a group of bandits while they sever Grey’s ability to move his arms or legs. Fortunately, the guy whose car Grey fixed allows Grey to try a piece of experimental new tech. This allows him full control of his arms and legs again except that it is through the program STEM which even talks to him now. Is Grey really in control or is STEM pulling the strings? Grey doesn’t have time to think about it though because while the cops have been unable to find the guys who murdered his wife, STEM has some ideas.

The film clearly takes place in the future with all of the crazy gadgets that are everywhere. You have automatic cars that are incredibly advanced and even the buildings look high-end. Technology is moving pretty fast and Grey resents that a bit because all of the practical hands on kind of tasks have been removed. A.I. control everything now so there is really no escape. However, as Grey notes, criminals still get away with everything so it’s like the extra surveillance doesn’t even matter.

Of course the main plot of the film is about Grey trying to find the murderers and then take them down. Grey isn’t much of a fighter but that’s why STEM is here. STEM is able to temporarily take control of Grey’s body and then allow him to fight at full power. Basically Grey can go on auto pilot mode and let STEM do everything. It’s pretty handy but of course then Grey is actively surrendering his body to something else so is the price too high for this success? That’s the kind of question he has to ask himself.

STEM makes for a pretty interesting A.I. He sounds a whole lot like Hal 9000 so I think from the start everyone is meant to be wary of him. He can certainly fight well though I’ll give him that. He has absolutely no mercy for anyone who is in his way. STEM is the kind of character who figures that straight up murdering the opponents is most efficient so that’s never particularly surprising. These kind of A.I. villains are always interesting so I was on board with this.

As for Grey, he’s not quite as likable a main character. I can see why he wants to avenge his wife so going on the quest to stop these guys is a good start. He does have a habit of throwing up a whole lot though. The film has several scenes of this which is always pretty gross. While STEM does all of the hard work, Grey effectively signs off on most of it by not telling him to stop. Even when he does tell STEM to back off, it’s usually once it’s too late to do much of anything either. So he’s either all in and willing to help STEM murder the opponents or he’s not but the character can be a bit wishy washy about the whole thing.

The character cast is fairly small here as you’ve got the scientist, Grey, STEM, and the murderers. That’s pretty much it. For supporting characters you do have Grey’s mother though and the police agent Cortez. Cortez means well but she is definitely messing with forces that are a little too powerful for her at the moment. Grey is effectively a super soldier with STEM active after all and she would have died instantly upon entering if Grey wasn’t fighting back. Her options are rather limited though since how do you even know if you should take a guy down when he is being controlled?

Where Upgrade falters though is in how unrelentlessly violent the film is. We get a rather long scene of STEM torturing someone to death and all of the fights are pretty brutal as he snaps limbs and destroys everyone he comes across. Get ready for a lot of headshots and other such moments. Even the vomiting all over the place is probably another way to be rather gritty as Grey represents the audience reacting to this level of violence. The fight scene between Grey and another one of the upgraded humans was definitely good though. At least that had a lot of good choreography the whole time and made for a good back and forth battle.

It was like a comic book fight which is good. Whenever you leave that part though and get back to the murders then the film dials it up once again. That aspect definitely should have been toned down. As for the ending, I can see that one being rather mixed. It’s definitely a pretty bold way to end though and could lead the way for some sequels. After the initial shock value is over though, you may have some questions on exactly how this plays out. I think all of the questions can be answered though as you just realize that everything was a lie. With that knowledge in place, then everything does even out. After all, it just comes down to acting.

Overall, Upgrade has a pretty interesting plot. It’s a classic revenge story with Grey being willing to loosen his morals a great deal in order to secure a decisive victory. That being said, the film goes too far into edgy territory. This film could have absolutely been executed well without going so far over the top. In particular I’m never on board with the main character torturing someone to get what he wants. Grey allowing that to happen at all was definitely a shame. The film has its share of funny scenes as well although for the most part it is quite serious. If you want a film with a better blend of the two genres…then go watch Venom. You can see similarities between the two of them but Venom just handled all of this better.

Overall 3/10

Children of the Damned Review


It’s time to look at a sequel to a film that you would have thought would just end. I suppose there’s always room for a sequel though and I’ll never fault the idea of it, but this movie clearly didn’t have much of a plan. The villains themselves don’t have much of a plan and since the alien angle has been removed the movie is lacking that big punch that it could have had. Throw in some animal violence and I’m afraid that you’re in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

The film starts by reintroducing us to the 6 miracle children. As in the last film they all share a brain and so they all know what each others learns. Then you’ve got the fact that they have advanced hypnosis where they can control a person to do whatever they want with ease. These abilities make them hard to control or defeat. Tom and David are two people who are interested in these children but the situation quickly goes above their paygrade. Members of each embassy have decided that the children are too dangerous and are led by a man named Colin in destroying them. Can Tom and David stop them or will they ultimately decide that perhaps Colin is right and these children are too dangerous to live?

Naturally this film confronts you with the question of if it’s right to destroy these kids. Whether they’re aliens or not, the kids still appear to be children so right off the bat destroying them does not seem to be just. It’s also true that they tend to not strike unless someone attacks first but due to the nature of their powers you can never know if that is correct. When you are mind controlled you have no memory of this happening and so they could have already been manipulating people. Their abilities are effectively impossible to stop so your only bet is to take them down from afar.

I don’t think we needed to be reintroduced to the gang though. Having Tom and David know about the kids beforehand would have been pretty good I’d say. They make for solid main characters though. At first they’re just interested in what’s going on. They have some fun debates with Colin, a man the government has sent to put a stop to this. There is a lot of theorizing going on until eventually everyone is forced to choose a side which even leads to some in-fighting. At the end of the day they don’t handle the situations very well though. From Colin’s side, since he wants to destroy the kids that should be very easy. If you blow up the buildings or snipe from afar then there’s nothing their mental abilities can do. Instead a lot of the time you see them send in guards at close range who are promptly defeated. The worst attempt was likely when they had 3 guys walk up to the main kid and try to attack him. As if that stood a chance of succeeding.

The film could have gone a long way if it actually made the kids likable. Then you’d be able to sympathize with them or something. The problem is that they act like emotionless robots. Additionally they all seem to be evil from the jump, forcing their parents to crash into cars and messing with the dog. Yes, the film had to force in a dog death which did not do it any favors. I don’t see what the point of having the dog in the film was either. It’s not like it changes anything so in the end all it does is give the film another chance to fail. Why were the kids acting like this anyway? I suppose it’s the ole power corrupts case where growing up with invincible telepathy made them turn to the dark side. I could see it I suppose but from the first film the kids seemed evil from the start as if they were being controlled.

It’s why the film should not have gone away from the alien angle. These kids just being ahead of their time makes a whole lot less sense. I suppose aliens could be trolling by evolving people at random but the idea that aliens sent in advance scouts makes a lot more sense. Of course that could still be the case since the humans are just guessing but usually when the guess is presented like this is means that we’re supposed to take it as correct. Too bad, the film could have had a lot more mileage out of the alien idea. Towards the end the characters even ask the kids if they have any kind of plan and they basically shrug and say no. So much for the villains being interesting.

All I can say for the film is that it had some decent characters at least. I enjoyed the banter with the main 3 guys as well as Paul’s guardian who did her best for most of the film. She was effectively held as a hostage for the second half of it though so there wasn’t a whole lot she can do. The scenes of the kids just staring into the screen can get old pretty quickly though. It’s just hard to make a kid look scary at that age so you’re more likely to chuckle than grimace.

Overall, This is definitely not a film that I would recommend. It feels rather aimless for most of its run to the point where you question why the film has come out. What is the message that the film is going for? I suspect you will still be puzzling through that notion at the film concludes. The ending is pretty bad even if it was all part of the kids’ plans. It still makes the characters not look so good and you feel like things never had to escalate to this point. Surely characters with genius level intellect could think of another path or something right? Almost any other plan would have been more effective.

Overall 1/10