Satanists are always hard to trust.
During the early 90’s in Minnesota, Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) is called on to the case of John Gray (David Dencik), a father who, believe it or not, actually admits to the accusations put on by his daughter that he molested her. The daughter, 17-year-old Angela (Emma Watson), however, has no actual recollection of it, throwing Kenner for a loop and confused of where to go next with his investigation. So, the only way he sees fit is to call up a known expert in the field of psychology, Professor Kenneth Raines (David Thewlis). What Raines will hopefully be able to do, using experimental techniques, like “regression”, is regain Angela’s memories, and hopefully make better sense of what exactly happened that night. But once the dreams become clearer and clearer, Kenner soon discovers that there may be more going on with this case than he had originally thought. For one, the Satanic cult may have been apart of the situation all along. And, even worse, the rape could have not been a rape after all and instead, be a Satanic ritual!
Basically, Regression is a police procedural, courtesy of FOX, CBS, NBC, or any other station that holds conventional cop shows, with a tad bit more cursing, smoking, blood, gore, and Satan stuff. While that may actually sound fun, I can assure you, it really isn’t, as Regression is as simple and as boring as they come with a movie of this nature. See, what’s weird about Regression isn’t how it doesn’t really go anywhere surprising or different from what we’re all used to expecting, it’s that it doesn’t seem to go anywhere at all.
If you pay close enough attention in the first half-hour, it becomes painfully clear just where this movie’s going, what happened with the case, and just what could possibly happen to each and every character here. In that sense, Regression is already over. But for some reason, the movie still feels the need to continue on for the next hour and 45 minutes, disregarding the fact that it’s already spoiled itself by being lazy and unsurprising and is now, quite simply, just wasting our, as well as itself’s own precious time.
Which is probably the biggest and greatest sin a movie could ever commit.
But Regression does it in the first 30 minutes. After these 30 minutes, the movie tries to offer-up a twist here and there, but really, it just seems like it’s making excuses for being boring. Which is to say that yes, Regression is a very slow movie, but even worse, it’s uninteresting. Rather than this movie actually being a study about Satanic cults, their affect on small communities, and the fact that 1990, in which this film is set, was supposed to be a very “popular” time for Satanic cults in the mainstream American media, the movie seems more content with just focusing in on this one particular case, where people do a lot of talking, but nothing really happens.
Instead, we just sit around, watch and wait for the conclusion to eventually come around. Although, writer/director Alejandro Amenábar does try to liven the movie up with some oddly-placed, but nonetheless, spooky dream-sequences throughout, they’re really not enough to save this movie from being utterly dull and a tad bit unmemorable. After all, it’s just a cop movie, about one cop trying to solve his own case, in which the devil, or Satanists, may or may not, actually be involved.
Either way, it’s hard to care.
Which is a problem when you have the likes of Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson in your movie. Though both of them are clearly trying with the material, neither actually get the utmost perfect opportunity to really make this movie at all interesting. Hawke is basically playing another routine detective who, after a failed marriage with his wife, seems to be obsessed with this one case, can’t shake it, and can’t seem to let go. It’s an obvious road that Regression takes with this character and while Hawke does try to do something with it, it basically goes nowhere and feels like another case of Ethan Hawke getting saddled with some pretty bad, overly serious material that he is most definitely better than.
Same goes for the likes of David Thewlis, David Dencik, and Dale Dickey, all of whom show up and do their thing, but really, are in a movie that doesn’t have anything to do for them, other than cry and stare a lot. Emma Watson, despite being advertised quite heavily with this, really isn’t in the movie all that much, despite being the central plot-point to this whole story. If anything, I’d say that Watson’s in about 15 minutes of this movie, which are actually the best scenes because we see her and Hawke’s character actually drop all of the mopey crap and just act alongside one another. It’s a small bit of pleasure to get from a movie that is so drenched and covered in its own moodiness that, by the end, you’ll just want to see go back to their own respective careers, where they’ll, hopefully, continue to make better decisions in the near-future.
And stay away from lame horror-thrillers like Regression.
Consensus: Part horror movie, part psychological thriller, all pretty boring, Regression seems like it could play and mess around with so much, but really, just goes down the same, narrow and conventional road we’ve seen movies like this take before, except this time, with more cops.
3 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire