Hulu’s Jagged Mind will leaving you laughing more than anything as this one fails to deliver anything meaningful in the thrills department.
PLOT: Billie is plagued by blackouts and strange visions that lead her to discover she’s stuck in a series of time loops, possibly related to her mysterious new girlfriend.
REVIEW: Dementia is one of the scariest things I can think of. Losing the ability to access your own memories and being unable to recognize your loved ones is downright awful. So I was really interested when they brought up the concept and seemed like that would be the main idea at play Jagged Mind. I feel silly being so wrong. What starts as an interesting idea with our lead Billy seeing her death over and over, unable to properly comprehend time, swiftly devolves into a near Lifetime movie. Or maybe that was just the lighting.
Knowing that this started as a short film, First Date, (as part of Hulu’s Bite Size Halloween) I can see elements that carried over here. And while the concept is good, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. As far as positives: Maisie Richardson-Sellers is a good lead. She was very believable and worked well as the audience surrogate. I’ve always enjoyed Shannon Woodward and it’s nice to see her in a beefy role. Unfortunately, Alex is so one-dimensional and they make her almost comically evil. The cutaways as she’s getting angry were unintentionally hilarious. I half-expected her to stomp away in frustration.
The romance between Billy and Alex is almost entirely devoid of chemistry and that’s a massive problem. There was a little heat when they met in the bar and then it completely disappeared. And it also just sort of happens. I can easily attribute that to the blackouts and jumps in time, but I can’t help but feel dissatisfied with their relationship. And with how important it seems to be to Alex for them to stay together, I’m not sure I saw what Billy was really getting out of it. It was a vital part of the film that just completely misses the mark.
The mystery of the first half is actually fairly well done. I kept wondering what was going on and it was fun to piece everything together. But that’s where the problems lie. As soon as the full picture comes into view it gets quite ugly. The motivations are weak and the explanations end up with more eye rolls than mouths agape. Jimmy Jean-Louis shows up as a Voodoo Priest if that gives you any indication.
When Billy blacks out, the first couple of times are well done but the effect is repeated so often that it loses all impact. Making it less obvious and playing with time more would have really helped out. Feels like a missed opportunity given the lapses in time and other mysteries at play. The generic drum beats that play during most of the trippier scenes almost feel offensive for their downright on-the-nose nature. Paired with the very flat lighting, the production often comes across as cheap. Maybe if I had gone into this with a “so-bad-it’s-good” mindset, I would have enjoyed myself more but as is, it’s a disaster.
The more that’s unveiled in Jagged Mind, the less interesting it all becomes. I was really hoping for a psycho-sexual-thriller based on the setup but it’s simple relationship obsession by the end. And the lack of consequences made the entire experience feel pointless. I can’t tell what Hulu’s strategy is in regards to their horror wing because right when they put out a fun film like The Boogeyman (which I liked a fair amount), they also release this. Queer horror deserves better.
Jagged Mind is STREAMING ON HULU ON JUNE 15, 2023.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/jagged-mind-review-hulu/