Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Thewlis, Lothaire Bluteau, David Dencik, Dale Dickey
Plot: Set in 1990 in Hoyer, Minnesota, Detective Bruce Kenner investigates a case of a man who had molested his own daughter, but he subsequently discovers its connection to satanic rituals.
Review: On the surface, Regression looked like a film that I would really enjoy. It had a good cast, good premise and a dark setting. Somehow it just fell short of the mark. I'll get to that in a bit.
The film begins with the familiar 'inspired by true events' caption, followed by some information on the increasing reports of satanic rituals in America during the 1980s, which leads us to Hoyer, Minnesota in 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner has been put on a case where a man named John Gray has been arrested for sexually abusing his daughter, Angela. However he has no recollection of the incident. Kenner manages to persuade a reluctant Angela to give her side of the story, and that plus sessions of regression therapy (a form of hypnosis) on John, performed by psychologist Professor Raines, leads him to conclude that a satanic cult is active in town, and they were responsible for what happened. Eventually Kenner starts getting nightmares and is convinced he is the cult's next target.
For the first two thirds of Regression, I felt that we had a film that was on to something. Director Alejandro Amenabar was presenting a psychological thriller with a small dose of horror in it. The pace was deliberate and rather slow at times, but it was moving with a purpose. The cast was good, the revelations were interesting for the most part, and the dark setting of a small town in Minnesota was perfect to create the discomforting mood Amenabar was going for.
Alas, it is in the final third when the film disappoints. Some films heavily depend on its huge twist as its trump card, and though Regression's surprise revelation makes sense more or less, it is rather underwhelming in effect. It also left me with a few questions which I won't divulge here, you'll have to see it for yourself.
Ethan Hawke is doing great work these days and puts in another solid performance as Kenner. Emma Watson is good too as Angela, though she can't quite shake off the Hermione vibe yet. Watson's Harry Potter co-star David Thewlis fares better as Professor Raines, who provides a scientific side of the case quite convincingly. The rest of the cast put in solid work as well, especially David Dencik as John Gray.
Despite all the good work Amenabar and company put in here, the film only manages to be a decent thriller at best. They built it up quite well but wasted its potential towards the finish line. (6/10)