Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Writer: Alejandro Amenábar
Stars: Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis, Emma Watson
Plot: A detective and a psychoanalyst uncover evidence of a satanic cult while investigating the rape of a young woman.
Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
IMDB Score: 5.7
Why I Watched It: I’ll be honest I had forgotten about the film, when it first came out I liked the trailer and I’m a huge Ethan Hawke fan so I was interested but the film came and went and it had almost no buzz. Then I saw it on itunes for $1.99 and decided to give it a go.
Random Thoughts: Ethan Hawke has a very diverse career he does big Hollywood films, mostly as a supporting actor, he does indies and he has gotten into doing genre and I must say he’s almost always so good good his style never changes no matter what the material is he doesn’t act “down” in genre films.
What I Liked: The main idea, the plot if you will, a teenage girl accuses her father of raping her, the police confront him and he says if his daughter said he did it then he did but he has no memory of it. You can make a good movie out of that, you throw in satanic cults, a psychologist who uses the titular Regression therapy and you should have a decent thriller, should is the key word.
The atmosphere is great, there’s a creepiness to the film, you’re not sure what’s going on or who’s involved but there is that sense of dread. They build it up very well, slowly unlocking clues and slowly building up who may or may not be involved.
The film takes more of a slow burn, we’re not sure what to believe and how big this story is.
What I Didn’t Like: The idea was good but what’s weird and what really undoes the film is that it’s more of a shaggy dog story, yes there is a twist but it’s a strange one, and the film ends up being about something different than we thought in the end the film isn’t really a thriller it’s more of a drama and it ends up pointing fingers at the idea of Regression which is kind of weird.
This was directed by Alejandro Amenabar who’s directed The Others, The Sea Inside and Open Your Eyes, all good to really good films and all well directed but here to be kind he takes a step back, maybe a misstep he never seems to have a handle on his material, the film feels very ham fisted and he gets some sub-par performances from good actors, Ethan Hawke isn’t bad but he’s really one note he gets better by the end but for the first two thirds he’s just angry and yells alot, Emma Watson is a blank slate here, she’s a plot device rather than a character. Poor David Thewlis is really wasted here, not sure what his role was suppose to be cause it feels like he should play a bigger role but he doesn’t. We get no insight into the characters and even the end we’re left with more questions than answers. The main problem is while the set was good the characters have no depth and really we no nothing about them, we get no insight into Ethan Hawke’s character at all same with Thewlis.
I think this film got caught in between being a thriller and a message film, the whole cult angle is very strange and is almost a McGuffin, which if you think about is very strange, we get a lot of stuff with cults and the whole deal then we take a twist and a turn and the film decides it’s about something else and if makes the film feel empty and a bit lost, the tone and narrative is off with the film. Plus he’s the big thing the film not only drag but is boring at points, it’s flat, sure there’s some dream sequences that work but in the end they mean very little.
Final Thoughts: A huge disappointment, with the talent involved I was excepting at least something challenging or at least something entertaining and the film failed in both areas.