Hypnotic: Robert Rodriguez’s work-in-progress Ben Affleck film screened at SXSW

The Sin City director’s new incomplete stylistic thriller screened to a packed house, with Rodriguez taking a Q&A afterward.

hypnotic robert rodriguez ben affleck sxsw

SXSW couldn’t care less about the Oscars last night as the resident Austin, TX studio filmmaker Robert Rodriguez screened his newest film, Hypnotic, to an ecstatic audience, which even had to turn away a drove of people. Hypnotic is still in progress as the film suffered many delays with COVID, three production shutdowns, getting served an insurance lawsuit, and the distributor of the film, Solstice Studios, had imploded. Through all the trouble, Deadline is reporting that the audience’s response to the incomplete film was “rapturous.”

Hypnotic is a change of style for Rodriguez. In it, Ben Affleck “plays a detective investigating a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program.” As Rodriguez personally took questions from the audience (while coddling a baby Danny Trejo prop from Machete), he spoke about the inspiration for his style in this film being mainly Heat. Particularly how he shot the movie in widescreen, as the director is not known for doing so. He also wanted to differentiate dream sequences from the real world by using wide and spherical lenses.

Rodriguez explained that he was trying to create his own Hitchcock-ian thriller with this film. The filmmaker said that whenever he edits his films, he would usually have another film playing in the background of his editing suite. For this, he used Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Rodriguez also spoke about what the title, Hypnotic, meant to him, Hypnotic popped in my head. I said ‘Wow, Hypnotic, but what does it mean? Then I thought, ‘Oh, it’s a guy who can’t be caught.’ You go to catch this guy and he’s the most uncatchable villain because you think you’ve arrested him, then your own cops are raging guns, then they shoot each other. And that’s the opening.”

After the Hypnotic screening, the audience took to Twitter for first-response reactions,

Among the reactions, Variety’s Peter Debruge gave the film a glowing review, saying, “Better strap in and go along for the ride in the latest example of creativity-within-constraints from resourceful writer-director Robert Rodriguez. Taking a page from The Matrix, Limitless, and Memento — and whole chapters from sci-fi trickster Philip K. Dick — this slick mix of special effects and practical ingenuity puts Affleck in a fun position, and the slightly grizzled star’s still got the clench-jawed charisma to pull it off.”

Source: Deadline, Variety

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.