Thursday, October 08, 2015



From IMDB:


Set in Minnesota in the 1980s, Regression tells the story of a man who is arrested and accused of having sexually abused his daughter. Although he doesn't remember anything from the event, he pleads guilty. With the help of a psychologist, he'll relive those moments and eventually accuse a policeman of having participated in the crime. Meanwhile, the local media hints the possibility that everything could have been a satanic cult's doing.

Ratings: 6.5/10 
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar
Written By: Alejandro Amenábar
In Theaters: Dec 31, 2015 Wide
Runtime: 1 hr. 46 min.
The Weinstein Company


This is Detective Kenner his face always looks like this. He takes his job seriously. ©FilmNation Entertainment

From the director that brought you Abre los Ojos, the story Vanilla Sky is adapted from and The Others... 

So the director I am speaking of is Alejandro Amenábar which many of you probably won't recognize or remember unless you're an actual moviefreak at which point you'll probably know more about him than me and probably have seen everything the man has done. I have seen Vanilla Sky (2001) and can remember vaguely Abre los Ojos (1997) and of course I have seen The Others (2001) which I do remember being quite good especially Nicole Kidman's performance. The man not only directs but wrote the movies he's directed and has even composed music for films as well as produces his and other fellow filmmakers films. This is a very talented man. 

So if you didn't read those two synopsis up there then let me tell you that Regression is about how a Detective has a case of sexual abuse drop into his lap but the problem he has is that the person who has committed it has absolutely no recollection of it. To help the abuser remember the Detective calls in the help of a psychologist who uses a new method to help the man remember and as soon as he does so begins a web of intrigue that seems to involve the entire town and even a cult. Regression is inspired by events that took place in the 1980's and which tapered off in the mid 1990's, the events I am talking about involved child abuse, animal sacrifice, incest, orgies and even claims of cannibalism. I am talking about Satanism and the phenomenon of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Stories of Satanic Cults and SRA became such a huge thing in the 80's that the issue reached the US Government and even spread to other developed countries back then. It is a fascinating phenomenon and you can read more about it here.

This is Angela. There's more to her than just a pretty face. ©FilmNation Entertainment

In Regression the victim Angela Gray (Emma Watson) claims to have been abused not only by her father but in subsequent interviews with Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) begin to include her grandmother as well as claims of the cult being responsible for her mothers death. Upon tracking down her brother Roy () and interviewing him with the help of Dr Raines, he too begins to report claims of people dressed in black robes and hoods coming into his room to abuse him prior to him leaving home. As the detective delves ever deeper into the case and listen to more and more details from Angela regarding the cult and her abuse his mind begins to dovetail into an obsession for finding the cult and he begins to alienate his fellow police officers. His obsession leads him to having nightmares. But things aren't all what they seem.

Regression is a fascinating film because of the themes it deals with, who hasn't been fascinated by Satan, Satanism and Satanic Cults? Mix that up with a good detective story and you've basically got an interesting film. Provided of course it doesn't go into the hack and slash blood and gore type horror genre of course. This was the sort that combined a pretty good detective story with the dark theme of Satanic Cults and child abuse mixed in with the reliance of an unproven interview method that proved to be more of a distraction than a help.

Detective Kenner is assisted by a university professor who apparently doesn't do much at the university since he can hangout with the detective a lot. ©FilmNation Entertainment

The story evolved in a slow and very deliberate pace and as it did we slowly watch Detective Kenner become first obsessed and as his obsession grows with the case his mind begins to crack under the stress of the situation and the stories that Angela relates to him. Nothing distracts him from his quest of finding out who the Satanists are that have directed Angela's father to do the things he's supposedly done to Angela. The mood of the film from the visuals to the score to the camera work all help to bring that sense of foreboding and drama to the story. With scenes purposely grim and angles tight to focus on the individuals on the screen.

Ethan Hawke does a brilliant job in my opinion as Detective Kenner. He's obsession felt very real and honest and his mental spiral appears very much on his face. His confusion and frustration too is palpable when every lead he has leads to nothing at all. His anger as he badgers suspects shows his frustration. Emma Watson does a pretty good job at emoting he characters emotions but I found her accent to be distracting. Her attempt at a midwestern accent doesn't really come through and occasionally disappears altogether and you can pick up her English accent. It was quite distracting but other than that her performance was quite good. The other character whose involvement was key is the professor played by David Thewlis who was also quite good but hardly noticeable since he shared screen time with Ethan Hawkes character.

The only place Angela feels safe from the cult is in a church. And dressing like a mormon or was it amish. ©FilmNation Entertainment

The story plays out well enough up till the conclusion which I found to be uninspired and somewhat of a cheat. A much too convenient way to end the film. The scenes of the cults activities were interesting and dark and satan's one appearance was quite thrilling and gave the story a touch of horror but the meat of the film is still with Detective Kenner.

All in all this was an interesting movie spoiled somewhat by Watson's accent and of course the uninspired ending. If this movie does anything is that it shows off Ethan Hawkes ability as an actor and of course probably lead some viewers to read up more on the SRA phenomenon. It is very much an Alejandro Amenábar film but only falls short at the end.

Honestly I did enjoy the film and I've always been fascinated by stories of satan, satanic cult and the like but I couldn't enjoy it completely as you've probably noticed by reading what's up there. So I'm going to give this movie a decent 3 out of 5. A good detective story but nothing really remarkable about it.

Here's the trailer which intrigued me.


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