Regression Blu-ray Review
Satanism isn’t what it used to be. The Internet and general agnosticism has led to a general disinterest in the possibility that spooky people in dark robes are worshipping the Dark Lord. Satanists were big in the 70’s and 80’s when it came to horror movies. But the fear that our next door neighbor was an ungodly heathen was a scourge on small town America during the 80’s and early 90’s. Nowadays, we’re not that concerned. If they’re Satanists, we have no problem with them as long as they pay their homeowners association dues.
REGRESSION takes place in sleepy Minnesota in 1990 and begins with the statement that it’s based on a true story. Detective Bruce Kenner (Hawke) is investigating the sexual abuse of 17-year-old Angela (Watson). Her father is the culprit, but others are soon implicated. Professor Kenneth Raines (Thewlis) uses hypnosis, a regression technique, to conjure up buried memories from Angela and those who’ve been incriminated. That’s when the police force, as well as Detective Kenner, works on the thesis that Satanists are behind this horrific sexual act.
Angela’s memory is foggy, but clear enough to recount a horrific tale involving sex, gore and sacrifice. Many in the department are weary at first, but the visions continue to become more vivid and grotesque. Even the hard-stoned Kenner finds himself having nightmares and packing a gun under his pillow. Soon everyone begins to wonder if there is actually is a secret group of individuals stalking their quiet town, paying tribute to Satan with the townsfolk’s blood.
The Satanic imagery is spot on and REGRESSION hits the right creepy nerve as we see people in white face paint, smiling, and looking on in Angela’s flashbacks or Kenner’s nightmares. It doesn’t help that literature and TV are feeding into everyone’s fears. The scandalous nightly news programs warn of smiling neighbors hiding a sinister passion and New York Times bestsellers foretell of Satanism taking a hold of Middle America. It’s no wonder that people worried that ROSEMARY’S BABY was coming to life.
REGRESSION takes a while to pick up any steam and Kenner, while played wonderfully by Hawke, is a little bit too one-dimensional. He lives alone and doesn’t appear to have any friends or family in town. Unless his lack of socializing is a sign that his work is his life, Kenner is merely there to go from set A to set B so that the viewer can watch the story progress. The advancement of plot has one big hiccup, which takes away from the overall effect of the movie. In essence it steals from the message and twist of the movie. I’m certain that without it, the third act would have been more compelling.
Director and writer, Alejandro Amenabar, is good at creating unsettling atmospheres and making the viewer wanting to turn away from the screen in fear of what’s happening next. REGRESSION is a mix of horror and mystery thriller, but it’s not very good at the latter. REGRESSION has the makings of a smart, slick, psychological horror, but Amenabar has too many stumbles towards the makings of a classic.
In 2016, you’d be hard pressed to make a contemporary movie about the evil of Devil worshippers. Horror now is stuck in the paranormal and possession. Movie historians say that horrors are important because they reflect the fears of society. REGRESSION tells us that nearly three decades ago, we couldn’t trust our neighbor and feared a religion we knew nothing about. If we’re no longer afraid of Satanists, why did this movie still find a way to unsettle me? I guess some things never change.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) REGRESSION is stuck in a perpetual state of cloudy with a chance of rain. Darkness encompasses the landscape and so much of that sorrow is portrayed clearly through this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The soundtrack is mesmerizing and eerie. It balances well with the long sullen silences and jump scare bursts of sound.
Ethan Hawke – Bruce’s Obsession (2:04): This feature talks with cast and crew about working with Hawke and then gloss over his character.
Emma Watson – The Complexity of Angela (2:30): It’s the same as the last feature, except there’s no excited castmates talking about working with Watson.
The Cast of REGRESSION (2:26): After talking about the two main features, this one dives right into a lot of the secondary characters, but doesn’t give any enough time for us to care about them.
The Vision of REGRESSION (2:43): This is an interesting feature that needs to be a lot longer. It talks about shooting the movie as well as a couple of details about the script.