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.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 9)

As mentioned in my previous post, you’ll be getting two 12 Films of Christmas entries today. The previous one was technically yesterday’s the I missed. So this here is officially speaking the entry for today. So I hope you enjoy getting two pieces about contrivances today.

So for this one we’ll be talking about “Bad Times at the El Royale”, a 2018 pulp thriller written and directed by Drew Goddard. The movie is about a group of strangers who all converge at the El Royale motel for the night, and how all their pasts come to a head, creating one hell of a tumultuous experience. So what does this have to do with christmas? Well, let me learn ya somethin’.

This movie is a metaphor for family christmas dinners. Think about it. A bunch of differing people coming together and clashing? That’s very much christmas. A kindly grandpa with some skeletons in his closet (Jeff Bridges), a smug sales type who is probably your aunt’s new shitty husband (Jon Hamm), your mom who is ready to defend herself from any bullshit (Cynthia Erivo), your conniving sister (Dakota Johnson), and then there’s the cult leader (Chris Hemsworth). What, your christmas dinners don’t have charismatic yet ruthless cult leaders attending? Oh man, you should give it a try, it’s a blast… except for the one time my cousin got set on fire by said cult leader… that was a bit awkward. So yeah, “Bad Times at the El Royale” can be seen as a metaphor for insane family christmas dinners.

And even without the holiday implications, “Bad Times at the El Royale” is still a damn fine thriller filled with fantastic actors and tense moments.

Have a good one.

Series Review: Outcast – Season 2 (2017)

About a year ago I reviewed the first season of this show, and I thought it was really great. And now that season 2 is wrapped up I still wonder how this aired with little to no fanfare. At least when season 1 was airing, there was some hype around it… but no it’s almost like the show doesn’t exist. Oh well, let’s see how this second season is.

Ladies and gents… “Outcast” season 2.

We once again follow Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), the troubled young man with the ability to drive darkness out of a person, now having learned that his daughter (Madeleine McGraw) has inherited the same ability. And we follow them figuring this power out while also trying to stop a dark and probably evil event called The Merge. Throughout the season we get to learn more about the origins of Kyle and his abilities, while also giving us a bigger look into this world, including an in depth look into this cult that’s based in the forest. And while it’s interesting to see more of this world that’s been set up, I feel like the plot loses a bit of it’s focus. Season 1 had a very tight plot that had a consistent tension to it while still managing to be dramatic. Season 2, while containing an overall good plot filled with some good dramatic moments, doesn’t have that same focus. By showing the side stories of a lot of the supporting characters and by throwing in a whole bunch more lore it doesn’t feel as tight as season 1. So the plot here overall is good. Not great, but good.

The characters here are all pretty fleshed out and interesting. Patrick Fugit once again plays Kyle Barnes, the troubled young man also known as the Outcast (roll credits). After his “adventure” in season 1 he is a more determined and hardened man, not being as quiet and mopey as in season 1. And Patrick Fugit is great in the role. Philip Glenister once again plays reverend John Anderson, the priest who lost some of his faith after seeing all this dark and weird shit. And Glenister is relaly good in the role. Wrenn Schmidt once again plays Kyle’s adopted sister Megan, and after the horrible shit that happened to her in season 1, she is a bit more damaged than usual. It still haunts her in season 2 and it makes her quite an interesting character. And Schmidt is great in the role. Reg E. Cathey returned as Byron Giles, local police chief and friend of Kyle and Anderson. And Cahtey is great in the role. Brent Spiner once again plays Sidney, the msyterious man with mysterious (evil) intentions. And god damn, he is creepy… gets under my skin. So yeah, Spiner is great in the role. We also get to see more of Kate Lyn Sheil as Kyle’s wife, Allison, in this season, and she’s really good. We also get more of Charmin Lee who plays Rose, the wife of chief Giles, and she’s great in the role. We get introduced to Bob, a new ally and an old friend of Kyle’s dad. He’s played by M.C. Gainey and he’s great in the role. We also get Hoon Lee as a doctor who is important to the plot, but I’m not saying how because potential spoilers. So I’m just gonna say that he’s really good. Really, overall it’s a very well acted season of television.

The score for the show was once again composed by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, and Claudia Sarne. And once again it was great. It’s dark, eerie, suspenseful, and jsut overall helps create a very uneasy atmosphere for the show.

The show was, like I said in my review of season 1, created by Robert Kirkman, and it’s based on the comic books of the same name… which were also created by Kirkman (and Paul Azaceta). And the show was written and directed by a whole bunch of people (including Ti West, a decently well known guy). And in terms of overall craft this show is fantastic. The directing and cinematography is gorgeous, giving us plenty of “damn, that’s really good!” shots. And in terms of scariness this season… yeah, it’s not that scary. Season 1 was often bone chilling and actually managed to scare me a good amount. Season 2 on the other hand isn’t really that scary. That’s not to say that it’s not an eerie show, because it is. There’s a good amount of tension throughout the show which makes it a really interesting show. Also, there’s plenty of brutal gore and various other disgusting things on display here… and this is one of the few shows that has made me feel queasy because of it… so good job, “Outcast”.

It’s difficult to say how this season has been received because it barely even exists on review aggregator sites. Really, on Rotten Tomatoes there’s no trace of it. On Metacritic it exists but has no real score to it. And on imdb.com there’s no seasonal average, but the show in general has a score of 7,6/10.

“Outcast” season 2 is a little bit of a let down after the terrific season 1. That said, it’s still a really solid season of TV. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. The problems with it comes from the plot feeling a bit unfocused, and the scares not really being there. Time for my final score. *Boo*. My final score for “Outcast” season 2 is an 8,88/10. So even though it is flawed, I’d still say that you should watch it!

My review of “Outcast” season 2 is now completed.

I hope this gets renewed for a third season.