Like many a slasher, Psychotic! opens with an extended POV shot, as the killer first ogles Shannon (Rachel Laforest) through her window, and then enters the apartment with knife raised. Yet the would-be assailant is interrupted by the arrival of party guests, and reduced to hiding (like a final girl) under the bed and sharing a spliff with Jack (Clint Keepin), before eventually cutting Shannon’s throat.
Inversions abound in Psychotic!, a low-budget slasher set among the hipster set of Bushwick, Brooklyn. The mask-wearing serial murderer (hilariously dubbed ‘the Bushwick party killer’) proves hard to identify, not least because everyone here seems equally unhinged, and equally capable of slaughter: Stuart (co-writer/co-director Derek Gibbons), who is upset at being kicked out of his band Mass Psychosis, and liberally peppers his language with murderous metaphors; Stuart’s landlord ‘Scrapbook Tim’ (co-writer/co-director Maxwell Frey), an uptight, obsessive fantasist who is soon himself ogling women through windows; Shannon’s angry, alcoholic arsehole of a boyfriend Bill (Adam Maid); or pretty much any of the other drug-taking, bed-hopping, party-going hedonists who are now killing this once working-class neighbourhood with their narcissistic entitlement, even as they are themselves killed one by one. “Die hipsters”, reads graffiti outside one of the bars that these kids fill with their retro synth tunes – and sure enough, the film encourages us to see the fun side of their bloody demise.
“I guess you’re just old school,” Jack says to the cellphone-averse killer in the opening scene. Like the community that they are gentrifying, all these characters are caught between the old and the new, forging their identities in online hits and followers even as they play vintage synths and take selfies with polaroids. The film too, though focused on a thoroughly modern subculture, lovingly deploys the colour palette of a classic giallo and the sonic stylings of an Eighties slasher.