I Am Zozo and Fear Clinic

I_Am_Zozo

I Am Zozo

Maybe it should be called I am Yoyo, as in Yoyo Ma, because our tale begins with a rather bedraggled cellist Tess, who doesn’t look like she’s ready for the New York Philharmonic. Bow in hand, she’s recounting to a sympathetic therapist (“I was once normal!”) how she came by this sorry mental state.

I am Zozo, not as well-known as Ouija, is another teen “oracle board”-themed flick.

Shot very capably on Super 8, it features a group of five collegians, off to a cottage for some Halloween fun and frolic. This cottage is located on an island, and their Styx-like crossing adds some heavy Gothic ambience.

One kid Nick,  is a budding amateur magician and dresses like one as well as a self-styled skeptic a la James Randi, and Mel is a pretentious Wiccan (a silly fad religion with no cohesive intellectual tradition, but we digress). Naturally, she explains the finer points of Samhain to a credulous Tess and breaks out a Ouija board.

Nick enlightens the two girls about the finer points of “idiomotor action,” in which people make movements unconsciously, i.e., that Ouija boards are basically nonsense. This, as they prepare for the night’s repast (a freshly caught fish, gutted in a rather pointless montage).

As the kids get increasingly drunk they naturally conjure up spirits, one of whom Zozo, tells them what time they’re going to die.

Kelly McLaren is terrific as Tess, the kids are pretty darn likeable, there’s some snappy dialogue (“Do you have a gun in the house? You kidding, my dad’s a liberal!”) but we have to admit we’re not the target audience for this by virtue of its tameness and our aversion to the mystical (we like our supernatural horror Italian – with vivid gore). As liminal fare for the teen/newbie set, this functions as a well-made psychological horror, one which will hopefully turn them on to more intense experiences.

*** (out of 5)

Fear_ClinicFear Clinic

“Aren’t you going to put him to sleep?”
Dr. Andover: “We don’t deal in dreams here!”

An ironic statement, as Dr. Andover is portrayed by the one and only Robert Englund, whose career was built on nightmares.

In Fear Clinic we are told that there are “thousands of classified phobias…” Guess FDR was right: we have nothing to fear but fear itself!

Dr. Andover is an eccentric psychiatrist who develops a chamber that is part of “total immersive exposure therapy,” in which patients who’ve experienced PTSD revisit their traumatic experience through visualization in order to overcome it.

He’s got a gothic mansion in the middle of nowhere that’s his clinic and he’s frequently visited by survivors of a truly frightening mass shooting, in which a gunman clad in black machine-gunned occupants of a local diner. So far, his unorthodox treatment combining visualization techniques and a nebulous targeting of the neural structure, the amygdala, has proven successful.

However, when one of his patients, Paige, dies during the treatment the doctor is beside himself.

Soon, other patients are re-experiencing symptoms of PTSD, including a grad student Sara (“I could smell the gunpowder!”) and Dr. Andover is experiencing his own PTDS, including a Dali-esque dreamscape in which he encounters his deceased patient, her breasts stitched, who contorts in half in front of him, snap, crackle and pop.

As Dr. Andover hits the bottle and his mental state deteriorates, he is urged to treat catatonic Blake, who hasn’t said a word since the shooting and Caylee, the girlfriend of a famous motorbike racer, who is spewing black goo, a treatment byproduct more viscous than stomach bile.

“Everyone is scared of something.”

This is undoubtedly true. Fear Clinic is worth a look. Book an appointment.

***1/2 (out of 5)

 

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