Movie Review: REGRESSION (2015)

Anytime a film has to do with Satanic Cults or religion, I’m typically on board. When I heard that director Alejandro Amenabar (The Others) was set to direct a film that dealt with the aforementioned themes, I was more than excited. “Regression” stars Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day, The Purge) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter, Perks of Being a Wallflower) as well as David Thewlis (Harry Potter, Anomalisa), Dale Dickey (“True Blood”), and Devon Bostick (“The 100”, Diary of a Wimpy Kid).  The film is set in Minnesota in 1990 and centers around Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) as he investigates the claims of Angela Gray(Emma Watson) who accuses her father John Gray (David Dencik) of sexual abuse.  Though John has no recollection of his actions he admits guilt and is subjected to regression therapy at the hands of renowned psychologist Dr. Raines (David Thewlis).  As John’s memories begin to come to the surface, they soon discover a horrifying secret that spans nationwide.

As I mentioned, I was really excited when I first heard about “Regression.”  I loved Alejandro Amenabar’s previous work and as I huge fan of the Harry Potter films, I was looking forward to seeing Emma Watson in a role unlike her Hermoine persona.  There were aspects of this film that I really enjoyed and wish I could have seen more of.  Dale Dickey was a force to be reckon with as the grandmother of Angela.  She’s dynamite in any role that she is in and has a tendency to steal the show, which she did in “Regression.”  I wish we could have seen her more and learned more about her backstory but I understand she wasn’t the focal part of the film.  Ethan Hawke has really had a resurge in his (horror) career within the last 5 years with Sinister and The Purge, so I was looking forward to seeing him play a tough as nails detective in “Regression”. Though he may not have been as hardass as I thought he was going to be, he still was a presence on screen and his character was relatable on many different levels.  The only critique I had in terms of acting was with Emma Watson.  I have been a fan of hers for so many years and watched her grow from Harry Potter to roles such as Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I was disappointed to see her character portrayed so flat in “Regression”.   Watson is a fantastic actress but I think this role wasn’t the right fit for her.

As for the story presented in “Regression”, how can you not be intrigued?  I think the premise was strong and the attempt was in the right place, but aspects of it didn’t seem to resonate well on screen.  Certain scenes felt rushed and other areas I felt needed to be fleshed out a bit more, especially the relationship between Bruce Kenner (Hawke) and his police partner George Nesbitt (Aaron Ashmore).  Overall though, the story held my attention throughout and like any good film, there were some surprise twists.  Of course, what makes “Regression” a more plausible scenario, is that it’s based off true events.  Back in the 90’s there was much controversy over people that worshipped Satan and the Satanic culture.  Without delving too much into the movie, as I don’t want to give anything away, this media’s attempt to blame crimes on those that were part of the Satanic culture are brought to the forefront of the movie with devastating results to certain characters.  Though much of the media has died down on this subject it still makes for a fascinating story and one that I enjoyed seeing play out in “Regression.”

In all, I wasn’t completely disappointed in “Regression,” I just kind of wanted there to be more substance and stronger characters.  There were parts that I really enjoyed such as some of the dream sequences and flashbacks during the regression therapy as well as seeing the acting chops of Dale Dickey and David Thewlis.  There is so much potential with this film and it does a great job of dealing with interesting topics, such as Satanic cults, that I hadn’t seen before. If you are looking for something to watch that’s a bit different and you are intrigued with the subject matter and plot twists than I suggest giving “Regression” a chance.  “Regression” is available today on Blu-ray, DVD Digital HD and On Demand.

Shannon McGrew
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