CLEARMIND Review: Taking an Axe to Therapy

CLEARMIND Review: Taking an Axe to Therapy

Nora (Rebecca Creskoff) is going through a rough patch. Still reeling from the loss of her young daughter and the breakup of her marriage, she’s trying out a new form of therapy to cope. Said therapy involves the annual tradition of spending a weekend at a lakeside cabin with her friends… and maybe a sharp axe.

That’s the premise of Rebecca Eskreis’ ClearMind, a movie which mashes together a friends-reminiscing-type drama with a slasher movie, while not being either. For one, it’s barely a drama, with the director going with a dark, absurdist comedy tone which sometimes doesn’t sit well with the somber subject matter (again: this is about the loss of a child), or the folksy pop songs on the soundtrack.
There’s no mistaking this as anything other than comedic considering the outsized, loud and annoying personalities that make up this group of friends: there’s Nora’s ex Michael, a meek “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” type; his new flame, holy roller Shelby (Jessica Meraz); Type A Shannon (Toks Olagundoye); her lazy and ineffectual husband Tom (Kadeem Hardison, perhaps the only inmediately recognizable name present, being that guy that you probably saw in several 90s comedies); perpetually drunk Kate (Seana Kofoed, also the film’s writer); loser slacker David (Matt Peters); and oversexed, ditzy therapist Lily (Jenn Lyon). All are cartoonishly pitched, and it’s clearly Creskoff who’s having the most fun as the grieving mother/potential psychopath.
Aside from juggling mismatched tones, Eskreis throws in another curveball in the form of a clever twist, which is sadly spoiled on the poster if you read between the lines; if you ever saw the Matthew McConaughey-starring Serenity, you’ll have a pretty good idea. But rather than turn this into sci-fi, it seems to just be poking fun at all those New Age/alternative/crackpot therapies that think that somehow staring at birds’ nests and listening to soothing music is enough to overcome grief. Not even religion as a coping mechanism gets a pass; Shelby’s sole purpose in this story is for everyone to roll their eyes at every sanctimonious thing that comes out of her mouth.
So in the end, ClearMind is a drama about grief, a dark comedy where you question why all these people would want to hang out together in the first place, a slasher movie (the horror elements are the weakest thing here, especially when Nora’s venomous remarks cut deeper than any axe), and a sci-fi yarn. Juggling all of this is a tall order for any director, and while Eskreis isn’t always successful – you’re watching emotional flashbacks one minute, laughing at everyone sniping at each other the next, so you never know whether to take it seriously or laugh as well – she mostly pulls it off.
At the very least, ClearMind has more on its mind than being disposable, and it remains interesting by virtue of trying to do so much.
ClearMind is now available on VOD.


  • Rebecca Eskreis
  • Seana Kofoed
  • Toks Olagundoye
  • Rob Benedict
  • Rebecca Creskoff
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ClearMindKadeem HarrisonRebecca CreskoffRebecca EskreisRob BenedictSeana KofoedToks OlagundoyeComedyMysteryThriller

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