The Bushwick-set slasher film Psychotic! put its best foot forward, kicking off with a jarring synth score by Blazing Galaxies and a stalker’s-eye-view scene (we see just a hand with a knife) in which the intended murder is shock-blocked by the arrival of party guests — and then reduced to hiding under the bed during the festivities. It’s a strong opening to an uneven film. Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey’s homegrown indie scolds its Brooklyn twentysomethings for their obliviousness and self-involvement even as a knife-wielding murderer (the wonderfully named “Bushwick Party Killer”) hunts them down.
Psychotic! is best when it leavens the terror with comedy, slipping moments of ridiculousness into horror tropes: One character begs to be buzzed into a building, citing her social-media presence as proof that she’s not the killer; at another point, the maniac pauses before the kill to toke from a bowl. The film becomes more grating when the comedy is left to stand alone — the amped-up acting is oversaturated in self-aware irony, and the few laughs wrung from the characters’ train wreck of a band aren’t worth the time spent listening to it. It turns out that skewering the pretentiousness of hipsters is more fun when there are actual skewers involved.
Written and directed by Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey
Plays January 25, Nitehawk Cinema