Hysterical Psycho is the directorial debut of Dan Fogler, probably best known for his lead role in Balls of Fury. For this film he’s brought his acting troupe Studio 13 onboard for an homage to all things horror. He’s quite obviously a massive horror fan with a lot of knowledge and love of the genre, but that unfortunately didn’t turn into a compelling film.
Hysterical Psycho turns out to be another film I’ve seen at Tribeca that has an incredible trailer that proves to be leaps and bounds above the actual film. It’s a sad fact but the trailer is funny and interesting in all the ways the film isn’t.
The story here is familiar. A group of friends are off on a vacation to the woods to find themselves, and in the process start getting killed off one by
one by a murderous psychopath. They’re the usual selection of sex and drug-crazed individuals, and nothing that happens to them is in the least bit surprising, or amusing There’s some silly backstory that explains why everyone’s going insane – it turns out that the Moon is affecting people’s minds (lunacy!) because of a ages old-rift between it and our Earth. The story is told to us in a mildly amusing animated sequence by a Hitchcockian narrator voiced by Fogler himself. Horror fans will note absolute tons of homages to classic flicks- everything from Psycho to Texas Chainsaw Massacre… hell, there’s even some classic silent film fisheye used. It becomes a game to see where each shot is lifted from, and you’ll be surprised just how many references are made. It’s almost all shot beautifully in black and white, and the camera movements showcase a helluva lot of love of the genre as well- there’s a lot of Evil Dead Shaky Cam and twisted Hitchcockian angles used- but the problem is that the film is fairly boring and not very funny at all. I’ve never felt a 73 minute film drag so much.
Where Hysterical Psycho fails is in its humor. In the Q&A after the premiere Fogler said how he started the film basically without a script, and it shows. More a series of silly ocurrances than any kind of cohesive story, it was soon obvious during the screening that the only people having fun with it were doing so because they were watching their friends acting silly. It’s inside joke after inside joke, with nothing to leave the rest of us. The film looks like the people making it were having a ton of fun, but it doesn’t translate to the audience. Sure, it may be funny to watch your friend act crazy and make a really weird, throaty laugh, but we just see someone acting a fool.
It’s also the kind of film that tries to use fast cuts and loud musical cues as stingers for jokes, and this gets old pretty fast. It does have a few humerous moments here and there but even now, only a few days after seeing the film, I’m really having to rack my mind to think of a even a couple standout moments.
Humor is completely subjective, of course, but even for a guy who loves shitty b-movies this was too much to take. It’s sad when you watch a movie and think that the making-of would be more entertaining than the film itself.