Trauma Therapy: Psychosis movie poster

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis

In theaters September 1, 2023



81 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis (2023) is allegedly a stand-alone film that picks up from its predecessor, Trauma Therapy (2019), so there’s no need to dig up the original. You’ll likely thank me for this.

As a retreat for the helpless and perpetually anxious, the Vance Institute Advanced Treatment Center in Scotland is an exclusive, intensive 5-day program designed to instill power and confidence in the weak and powerless. This is no simple curriculum of reflection, group therapy, and trust falls. Instead, Tobin (Tom Malloy) puts each guest through a rigid schedule of “vitamins”, night terrors, and psychological torture to coax out the better person they all think they want to be. It also carries a $75,000 price tag should they decide to quit.  Lily (Courtney Warner), Nicole (Megan Tremethick), Frank (Gordon Holliday), Jesse (Jamie Scott Gordon), and Daniel (Craig J. Seath) are all tired of being pushed around by parents, spouses, society, and their past trauma in general, but in order to become their best selves, they have to endure the most relentless bully of them all, the Vance Institute.

It’s set in Scotland, I’m guessing to create that feeling of isolation and to impart that Tobin Vance is on the run despite hiding out in a country with a fairly strong extradition treaty with the US.

It always surprises me when characters arrive in a place that essentially looks like a concentration camp with an employee break room, but believe the Program has their best interests at heart. Locked in their rooms at night, micro-dosed, and terrorized, each is made to commit horrific acts that would be illegal in any country. Trauma Therapy Psychosis is an uneven film with bursts of ultra-violence, long, sad monologues, and stark set designs that scream “micro-budget” much louder than it should. The acting is solid, even if the character motivations are baffling. Rooms are stark and unfinished. Nazi and white nationalist symbolism make several appearances, whether for shock value or foreshadowing, but overall seems pointless since that doesn’t seem to be an underlying issue mentioned with any of the characters. At some point, it feels like Set Design gave up and no one bothered to notice.

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis has clips that feature the late Tom Sizemore as a podcaster interviewing a Victor Garcia (Vince Lozano), who presumably is from the first movie. Victor talks about his role in the Vance Institute before it was shut down by the US government in vague circuitous language that neither confirms nor denies allegations and accusations. This doesn’t have the narrative punch director Gary Barth was going for, and it’s a shame it’s Sizemore’s final role. It isn’t a podcast I’d subscribe to. Padding was needed to flesh out Trauma Therapy Psychosis to the 81-minute mark it currently holds, but I question the attempt to bridge the original with the sequel while pretending the sequel stands alone.

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis wants to be the Adult Summer Camp from Hell movie but it lacks the compassionate counselors suspending belief that the Vance Institute is more about whole-being wellness and less about building a paramilitary cult with an unknown endgame. Considering its violent and often fatal treatment program with less than stable recruits, it’s no wonder supervillains fail.

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis (2023) is unrated but call it Rated R for swears, people getting shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, beat up, mentions of child sexual abuse, nazi and fascism symbols, light cannibalism, and lots of yelling.

Trauma Therapy: Psychosis is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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