Hot Take: Anti-climactic pile of who gives a crap. Regression starts with promise and ends with a thud.
This cop thriller/Satanic horror/psychological suspense starts off okay. With Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson and David Thewlis on board, it already starts ahead of the curve. Writer/director Alejandro Amenebar — the writer/director behind Abre los Ojos (the foreign film Vanilla Sky was based on) and The Others — comes with cache, too. So, what the hell happened?
The film is fiction but inspired by true events. The story takes place in Minnesota in 1990 and follows detective Bruce Kenner (Hawke) as he attempts to uncover the truth behind sexual abuse allegations by 17-year-old Angela Gray (Watson) toward her father (David Dencik) who confesses despite remembering nothing. The story takes an odd turn when satanic rituals and cultish behavior become a part of the mystery and Dr. Raines (Thewlis) is brought in to help everyone relive their past memories through regression therapy.
That’s the premise and things start off intriguing enough. Unfortunately, as the story unfolds the plot points unravel and the movie has an identity crisis. Is it a thriller? Is it a satanic horror? Is it an exposé? Unfortunately, it tries to be all of them and achieves being none fully. Both Hawke and Watson deliver a yeoman-like effort in giving the film some credibility. Thewlis is wasted in his role. The whole thing becomes completely uninteresting and the anti-climactic ending does absolutely nothing to help this film’s cause.
It’s a shame. The first 1/3 of the film is actually fairly compelling. Regression is a movie you’ll watch to the end because you hope it pulls out of it’s downward spiral. Hitting the eject button would have at least helped you from crashing and burning with it.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Watson & Hawke
Both deliver the best possible performances under the circumstances.
- At Times, It’s Unnerving
During it’s best moments, Regression delivers some unnerving, eerie suspenseful thrills bordering on horror. It never quite fully goes there which is also ok but it all feels like a shell game in the end.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
It’s not David Thewlis’ fault that he’s wasted in his role but he could have been better utilized. Excellent in other supporting roles, Thewlis is more background noise than anything in this dud.
- Too Much Misdirection
There’s a little too much going on pointing in one direction or another to try and keep the audience away from the truth. The disappointment is when you attempt to add it all up, it doesn’t. The fictionalized aspects aren’t married to the truth or reality and become a little too hard to believe once we get to the real story.