Directed by Gary Barth, Trauma Therapy: Psychosis is a sequel to Trauma Therapy. The good news is that first-hand knowledge of the original is unnecessary to enter this horror-thriller written by Tom Malloy and David Josh Lawrence. The bad news is that parts of the film feel choppy or awkward, apparently due to studio/distributor meddling. Does the film offer more to praise than dislike or vice versa?
Sometime after the first film, the controversial self-help guru Tobin (Malloy) lives in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Here, he sets up another retreat for those he considers weak. With the help of Elizabeth (Hannah New) and John (Lawrence), Tobin aims to purge these people of their vices and demons. It just so happens that his methods are of the utmost extreme and can lead to injuries or death.
None of this is known to Lily (Courtney Warner), Nicole (Megan Tremethick), Frank (Gordon Holliday), Jesse (Jamie Scott Gordon), or Daniel (Craig J. Seath). They agree to the retreat as other remedies to help them have failed. But as each new challenge is presented, the group realizes that they are in much more danger than they were led to believe. Is Tobin just a madman playing god with people’s lives? Or are his therapies, extreme though they are, genuinely helping everyone become their best selves?
Trauma Therapy: Psychosis is bookended by segments wherein Tom Sizemore, as himself, interviews someone about Tobin. Who this person is or how he relates to everything else going on is never made the slightest bit clear. Presumably, he’s a character from Trauma Therapy, but this needless interview is so poorly set up that the film’s plot is never summed up in a sensible way for newcomers. Sizemore is a legend, delivering some excellent performances in some real stinkers, always trying to class up the production, so to speak. He’s wasted here, and it is a shame this will be his final film. Excising the interview would make for a tighter narrative focusing on the main action and characters.
“…sets up another retreat for those he considers weak.”
And that’s because when Bart (or whoever re-edited this without him) focuses on Lily and company and their reaction to Tobin’s methods, there is something here. There is a sense of menace to Tobin, Elizabeth, and John that emerges enough to make viewers doubt their sincerity in helping folks. But the deranged ways to exorcise inner demons cannot be undersold, as the results are tangible. This balance intrigues and excites, as each new task, harder than the last, reveals the endgame.
Malloy owns Trauma Therapy: Psychosis as the self-help guru with killer instincts. He’s charming, creepy, and totally committed to the part. New is stoic and cold, which helps serve the ambiguity of everyone’s actions. Tremethick really sells her character’s trauma, while Warner’s mental break is quite believable.
Trauma Therapy: Psychosis is poorly paced, with the interview interjections feeling tacked on and forced in (they were). That’s too bad, as the rest of the film is a creepy and engaging thriller about what it takes to break someone. But remember, when pushed to their breaking point, people are capable of shocking and unexpected acts.
"…creepy and engaging..."