A psychiatrist, under tremendous pressure, snaps and takes her vengeance out on her patients in this dark comedy horror. Here is Screen Critix review of writer/director Joshua Nelson’s Psycho-Therapy.
Psychiatrists have a tough job, of course, they are usually very well paid for it, but spending all of your time talking to people with any number of problems, issues, fetishes, must eventually wear you down. Especially if your patients are anything like the characters in Josh Nelson’s Psycho- Therapy.
Victoria, played by Suzanne Johnson, is a therapist who specialises in relationship advice and marriage guidance, but even her kindly demeanor and experience in the job cannot really help her clients. Each one is grotesque, a caricature, a cliché, and all have very few redeeming qualities. We have the selfish gold digger with her meek but loyal and loving boyfriend, the female singleton so desperate for love she suffocates every relationship she has had. The young couple who have different views on marriage and children. A sexually confused girlfriend and her jealous lesbian lover, a former mental patient with a split personality and a misogynistic husband with a wife and a girlfriend who all live together.
Then we have Victoria herself, whose own life could do with a makeover, with a husband who treats her like dirt, spends all of her money and lets her know which women he’d like to sleep with (her sister), those women he has slept with (her sister) and those women he plans to sleep with (strippers and prostitutes) using her money, quite regularly.
Psycho-Therapy is an ensemble piece that, for the majority of its relatively short 70-minute runtime, is filmed in a talking-heads style as each of these characters spend time in therapy with Victoria, talking through their problems telling her all about their messed up morals and how they are finding their relationships.
The chemistry between the cast is extremely good and my initial reaction was that it was either because the actors had rehearsed the script for a long time together or that they were all part of the same acting school or acting class and that this film was made as a way to showcase their own abilities and strengths. Although I don’t know this for sure they did seem to know each other’s rhythms and gestures as if they were used to working together and my hunch increased mainly because each actor gets there moment to shine and these moments are spread very evenly across the whole cast.
It works well to an extent, but the only problem with this is that, because some characters are less developed than others, the better characterizations shine through and the not-so-well written ones appear sometimes wooden, others a little camp and the odd one overacted. That said, standouts are Ashley Laessig as the Gold digger, Chelsea Rose as the sexually conflicted Rebecca, Carrie Plumley as cuckolded wife Sara and Kenny Ledee who has the most fun in his dual roles. A part who’s scenery the great Tim Curry would have also devoured.
Holding all of this together is Suzanne Johnson’s stoic Victoria, the anchor of the piece. Stoic that is until the real villain of the film, her dastardly husband played with relish by Tom Scorzone, pushes her over the edge.
The movie remains in strict comedy territory until the characters all travel to a country retreat to work out their feelings. Once everyone has arrived here Psycho-Therapy then flips into horror mode with a slasher finale. The low budget comes to the fore with the conclusion, as a few of the deaths come across as unconvincing, however, it is always entertaining. With a few more adventurous shots from director Joshua Nelson, Psycho-Therapy would have got an extra star but as it stands this is a humorous movie with a cast and crew who’s work seems to suggest that they were all thoroughly enjoying themselves.