PSYCHOSIS World Premiere at Popcorn Frights Film Festival 2023

The feature-length film Psychosis is written, directed, produced, and edited by Australian filmmaker Pirie Martin (Andy’s Venture, the 2017 short). It had its world premiere at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival this month. For fans of grainy, high-contrast black-and-white photography, this will be appealing upon viewing the main character, Cliff Van Aarle (Derryn Amoroso), as he accepts a new contract in his profession as a criminal fixer. The job involves two amateur drug peddlers who have dead bodies at their place and need help. To make matters worse, they are wheeling and dealing where they shouldn’t, and the area’s drug lord, Joubini (James McCluskey-Garcia), is not to be messed with. This dilemma is a complex cleanup for Van Aarle, as it becomes a journey to the underworld that is not easy to escape.

There are “zombies” in the film, but not the ones fans may be used to from other movies. These are high on a substance and then under hypnosis to act out instructions. The action in black and white, by cinematographer Isaac Szepessy, enhances the viewing experience of Cliff Van Aarle, trying to make sense of what is real. He has auditory hallucinations. His love and reliance on coffee are not as effective as he expects.

It is a challenge to stay focused when Van Aarle hears the voices and more so with the viewer’s inability to hear or understand what is being said. Ignoring the voices becomes easier than getting frustrated, so some viewers may need to catch up on something important to the action.

The performances are excellent by the lead (Amoroso), who has a vast range of emotions, and McCluskey-Garcia (Roadkill, The Stranger), the role of the drug lord who sports a mask. He is very convincing to stay away from him and the enterprise he has developed.

To not provide spoilers in this story, I did not find it as predictable as other genre films I recently viewed through other sources. This movie is one to watch if it goes on to other festivals or streaming in the future. This filmmaker shows he has a talent for storytelling, and I look forward to viewing his next production.

Cast: Derryn Amoroso, Kate Holly Hall, Henry Errington, Michael Wilkop, PJ Van Gyen, James McCluskey-Garcia, Mark Healy, Louise Byrne, and Dorian Tisato

Runtime: 98 minutes and not yet rated

About the Popcorn Frights Film Festival: It was established in 2015 by Miami locals Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman. It has quickly grown into the leading international genre film festival in the Southeast United States.

Source: PFFF, Pirie Martin, in association with Kessel Run Productions

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