'Enter the Dangerous Mind': Film Review

Enter the Dangerous Mind Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Amplify Releasing

Enter the Dangerous Mind Still - H 2015

This psycho killer feels all too familiar

Jake Hoffman (Dustin's son) plays an EDM musician spiraling into madness in this violent thriller.

A variation on Psycho set to a propulsive beat, Enter the Dangerous Mind signals its aspirations at cleverness with its punning title. Depicting the emotional free fall of a budding young EDM (electronic dance music) composer, Youssef Delara and Victor Teran's debut feature starts out as a potentially interesting psychological thriller before devolving into familiar horror movie tropes.

Jake Hoffman (Dustin's son, and the resemblance is obvious) plays the central role of Jim, a socially maladroit young man who's clearly still suffering from a trauma in his past. His supreme awkwardness with the opposite sex is a frequent topic for his imaginary roommate (Thomas Dekker), who alternately offers romantic advice and taunts him about his insufficiencies.

Things seem to be looking up for Jim when he manages, just barely, to ask out the attractive Wendy (Nikki Reed), who works at his therapist's (Scott Bakula) clinic. But despite her being impressed by his spinning abilities when he's coaxed into an impromptu DJ set at the club, their initial sexual encounter proves disastrous. That's all that's necessary for the already emotionally teetering Jim to begin a downward spiral into madness typified by such behavior as using a screwdriver to bloodily remove the object he thinks is implanted in his ear.

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His violent behavior soon escalates, first with the vandalism of his shrink's office and ultimately with a home invasion in which, armed with an air gun, he terrorizes Wendy and a group of her family and friends.

The filmmakers use a variety of inventive technical devices, both visual and aural, to effectively convey their central character's fractured psychological state. But Teran's screenplay is ultimately a superficial affair, both in its explanation for the cause of Jim's psychosis and the ultraviolent, exploitative climactic sequence that seems mainly designed to appeal to torture porn devotees. And the less said about the silly twist ending, the better.

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Hoffman displays a compelling intensity, although he's hamstrung by his character's one-dimensionality. Reed is as appealing as ever, while Bakula offers his usual solid support and Jason Priestley has an inconsequential cameo that seems to suggest he merely stopped by the set one afternoon.

Production company: Cima Productions
Cast: Jake Hoffman, Nikki Reed, Thomas Dekker, Scott Bakula, Jason Priestly, Gina Rodriguez
Directors: Youssef Delara, Victor Teran
Screenwriter: Victor Teran
Producers: Amir Delara, Ryland Aldrich, Youseff Delara
Executive producers: Reza Safinia, Forest B. Hamilton, Elaine King Henderson, Anthony Jabre, Jeremy Platt
Director of photography: Ben Kufrin
Production designer: Seth Reed
Editors: Youseff Delara, John Wesley Whitton
Costume designer: Alisha Silverstein
Composer: Reza Safinia
Casting: Derek J. Marquardt

No rating, 88 minutes