Movie Review: Regression (2015)

Is there a devil? Fucked if I know, so let’s talk about a movie, which is something I do know about!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Regression”.

Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) is tasked with finding the culprit behind the traumatic events in a young woman’s (Emma Watson) life. And while investigating, evidence starts pointing towards a satanic cult potentially being involved. I’m gonna be honest, I like the premise of this one. It is interesting, it has potential to be a really fascinating thriller. And credit where it’s due, I did find the first half of the film kind of enjoyable. Admittedly a bit rote in what was going on, as we’ve seen similar shit in other procedurals, but it was still a decent take on familiar story territory (terristory?). Buuuuut when we entered the second half the train started to derail a bit. The pacing started dragging, and things started to get convoluted and messy. It all felt like it was in service of trying to shock its viewers with weird twists and revelations rather than make something that feels coherent and satisfying in any way. It also has a habit of getting a bit silly at a few points, which would be fine if the rest of the movie didn’t take itself so god damn seriously all the time. So yeah, solid premise, decent first half, trainwreck second half.

The characters in this, much like the premise, have solid enough setups. The foundations for them is strong, and could make for some intriguing character dynamics. However, much like a chicken that gives you salmonella, they are a bit undercooked. Ethan Hawke plays detective Bruce Kenner, our skeptic lead character whose stance is constantly shifting. He’s probably the closest we get to an interesting arc at times, but then in the end I felt very unsatisfied by it. Hawke does a damn good job with his performance, but the character isn’t quite as interesting as he clearly could be. And in supporting roles we see people like David Thewlis, Emma Watson, David Dencik, Lothaire Bluteau, Dale Dickey, and more, all doing pretty well in their roles, but just like with Hawke’s detective Kenner, their characters don’t feel fully fleshed out. And when you have a top notch cast like this, it gets to be a bit of a shame when the characters themselves feel so undercooked.

The score for the movie was composed by Roque Baños, and he did an alright job. It’s a fairly standard thriller score with some mildly eerie strings and piano, with the occasional bit of brass to increase intensity in certain scenes. Not saying it really succeeds at that (sadly), but I recognize what he was going for. And all things considered, it was an alright score in itself.

“Regression” was written and directed by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, and I think he did a fine job. There are times when he creates a decent atmosphere, however it seldom lasts long enough to really elevate the messy narrative. And even in scenes that are meant to be less atmospheric and more investigative, you know, the procedural stuff, Amenábar’s skill never really manages to help much beyond a “I guess this scene is well constructed in the technical sense”. Speaking of which, to be slightly positive for once, I have to say that Daniel Aranyó’s cinematography does look nice, it is pleasing to my eye. Again, it doesn’t really do enough to save the narrative or characters, but it’s at least something I can be nice about.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it hs a 15% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 32/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite some promising elements, “Regression” sadly fell short for me. The plot felt like a mess, the characters are uninteresting, the performances are really good, the music is fine, and the directing is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Regression” is a 4.23/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Regression” is now completed.

Damn it.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Regression (2015)

  1. As I was reading I was like, I’ve never heard of this one before – weird, then I got to the end…I think that’s probably why..it most likely went in n out of theaters and I never got the chance.. though that might be a good thing. 🙂

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