Review: PSYCHOTIC - A BROOKLYN SLASHER
When I sat down to watch the directorial debut from filmmakers Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey, also known as Destruction Inc., I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know much about the film or the team behind it, but I’m always excited to learn about new, up-and-coming filmmakers, so I strapped in for what would be a ridiculous, hilarious, and bloody ride through the most hipstery parts of Brooklyn.
The film follows a group of friends and their antics throughout the Bushwick region of Brooklyn, where a masked serial killer known as “The Bushwick Party Killer” is on the loose. The Bushwick Party Killer begins picking them off one by one and the suspense rises as the group is narrowed down and the film draws closer to revealing who is behind the mask. As the story unfolds, we learn an awful lot about the seemingly endless web of drama that entangles the friend group; from roommate squabbles to obsessive lovers, and cheating partners to two-timing friends. However, the inner-friendship tensions aren’t meant to be the focus, because where this film truly shines is in its gloriously gory kills, baby.
The opening scene, which features a five minute continuous shot from the killer’s POV leading up to the first kill, is enough to hook any slasher fan. Don’t believe me? Check out the opening below! Every kill from that point on is more bonkers than the last. A couple of my personal favorite moments from the film include some oral sex with a not-so-happy ending and an insane kill involving a bong, which is definitely now at the top of my favorite on-screen kills list. The Bushwick Party Killer’s innovative murder tactics make Psychotic! so campy and memorable and although the indie films minuscule budget is evident throughout, the low-budget nature of Psychotic! really is part of its charm.
Gibbons and Frey, who not only directed the film but also co-wrote, produced, and acted in it, joined forces back in 2001 while attending the Rochester Institute of Technology and have been working together ever since. In addition to collaborating on short films, the two have also worked for HBO, Cinemax, and The Onion - the latter definitely proves evident in their satirical filmmaking style. When they set out to produce what would be their first feature, Psychotic!, the team looked to crowdfunding to get their project off the ground and they successfully achieved their $50,000 goal via Kickstarter in the fall of 2015. A few years later, we’ve got one hell of a ride, reminiscent of both 70’s giallo and classic 80’s slasher films, all set to a psychedelic, synth-tastic score by the Brooklyn-based Blazing Galaxies. If you’re a fan of either or both of the aforementioned subgenres, I highly recommend giving Psychotic! a shot. It’s fun and fast-paced with a run time of just 87 minutes, but you’ll wish it were longer just to see The Bushwick Party Killer claim a few more victims in the most creative ways possible.
Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey of Destruction Inc. are off to a great start as far as features go and I really look forward to what they can create when given a larger budget and access to spiffier effects. Although the two definitely have their own unique voices and storytelling style, they remind me a bit of the Broken Lizard team if all they did was horror comedy like their 2004 film Club Dread - and those are my kind of films. These are the films that keep horror fun, reminding us not to take things so seriously, because as Maxwell Frey’s character, Tim, reminds us in Psychotic!, “You only YOLO once!”. So grab some friends, some PBRs, and your hipster snacks of choice and enjoy. I promise you’ll have a bloody good time.