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Regression (2016)

February. 05,2016
| Horror Thriller Mystery

Minnesota, 1990. Detective Bruce Kenner investigates the case of young Angela, who accuses her father, John Gray, of an unspeakable crime. When John unexpectedly and without recollection admits guilt, renowned psychologist Dr. Raines is brought in to help him relive his memories and what they discover unmasks a horrifying nationwide mystery.


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Judging by the reviews it seems to be a polarizing film that has determined this, rather unfair, low score. I found Regression to have an interesting premise, well written, crafted and credibly pulled off by stylish director Alejandro Amenábar. Writer/director of The Others and Open your Eyes, as well as writer of the English version, Vanilla Sky. A classic thriller with a classic twist. Worth watching.


REGRESSION tells the story of high strung detective Bruce Kenner, played by Ethan Hawke, trying to unravel the mystery behind a suspect accused of child molestation in the small rural community of Hover, MN.The accused father, John Gray, can neither admit nor deny his crime against his daughter, as he cannot fully remember the events. A psychiatrist is brought in to guide the investigation, which quickly becomes complicated and not as it first appears. Several of the characters, including the victim's estranged family members and detective Kenner, all begin experiencing nightmares, brought about by exposure to the horrific events that are described in the psychiatrist's regression therapy sessions. These events center around a sadistic satanic cult and the evil deeds to which their victims are subjected. The nightmares become so intense that is becomes difficult for the characters to separate hallucination from reality.Kudos to writer/director Alejandro Amenabar, from whose hands we can see his tightly controlled craft. He did so many things right in this movie that it more than made up for a couple of slow spots in the script. First, this was a period piece, and the bar for accuracy in period pieces has been raised over the last decade due to TV shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. Amenabar shows us his vision of 1990 with great attention to detail, including the boxy Chevrolet Caprice cop cars, the tacky furniture and cabinets in Kenner's house, and the micro-cassette recorders and other electronic devices from that era. Amenabar also chooses the side of subtlety as he frightens the audience, using a minimum of blood and gore but leaning heavily on the power of suggestion. This movie leans cerebral over slasher.In the end (here comes the spoiler) we learn that daughter Angela, played by Emma Watson, is making up the accusations against her father as a way to punish him and her family for binding her to her white trash roots with no hope of escaping to a better life. Again, the plot twist is more subtle than earth shattering, but we in the audience don't feel let down by the whole "figment of their imagination" ending present in films like FIGHT CLUB or SPHERE.Lastly, Amenabar's film leaves the audience to form its own conclusions. It doesn't take sides on the religious faith vs. academic science argument, and aptly demonstrates the fallacies of regression therapy without beating us over the head with it.


I thought Regression was going to be a horror film, but it ended up being a psychological thriller which explores the real phenomenon of the "satanic panic" during the '80s and '90s, when rumors on satanic cults celebrating sadistic secret rituals even in the most innocent suburbs and communities were spread around the world. There's even an episode of The X-Files about that subject (second season, episode 14: "Die Hand die Verletzt"). That's the phenomenon which director and screenwriter Alejandro Amenábar attempted to examine in Regression; unfortunately, he wasn't able to find the right focus to make it interesting or even entertaining. The general narrative of Regression hesitates between the investigation of the policeman Bruce, the sessions of hypnotic regression and Anegla's flashbacks, in which we witness the rituals of torture, rape, sacrifice of babies, etc. Needless to say, all that is suggested; there's almost no blood and very little violence, because that's not the point of the movie. No, the point of Regression is making us be on the verge of falling asleep. Amenábar made the film equivalent of a sleeping pill, with a tedious and listless narrative which doesn't wake the slightest suspense or excitement. All the actors tremulously whisper their dialogues, but their characters don't say anything substantial; Daniel Aranyó's cinematography is excessively monotonous; and Amenábar's direction doesn't display a pinch of the sureness and virtuosity he had shown in Tesis, The Others or Agora. I don't want to spend more time talking about this piece of junk, so I will only say that despite having a talented director and some solid actors (including Ethan Hawke and two Harry Potter veterans: Emma Watson and David Thewlis), I found Regression a waste of time and an absolute disaster. I hope this was just a misstep in Amenábar's filmography, and that we will soon see him back working in a project on par with his talent.


There are a lot of excellent Spanish directors; however only Almoodovar and Amenabar are very well known abroad. And sadly they made great movies long ago but their latest efforts are really badly directed and even worse scripted.After getting Tom Cruise to remade his second movie (Open your eyes) and winning an Oscar for his third (The Sea Inside), Amenabar made an over-produced, and later financial failure called AGORA.The movie blamed the rising Christian faith as the barbarians who destroyed the Alexandria library and its documents and knowledge without any historic accuracy. Some people considered the movie offensive; but it was just a poorly directed, mediocre script whose only goal seemed to be to create controversy.Regression (after an hiatus of a few years) is perhaps more of the same. It is difficult to understand if Amenabar is attacking one more time the Christian faith, psychoanalysis or people stupidity. *** SPOILER FOLLOWS **** Based on real events (which does not necessary means what the movie tells is completely true) it tells the story of a police detective that investigating a possible child molesting case; turn things in a satanic cult stuff, creating a media big mess; to find out later that everything was product of a quite hysterical young women.***END OF SPOILER *****Nothing in the move makes a lot of sense; people believe things without any real proof; everybody (including the "smart" city detective) becomes obsessed almost immediately; but it happens so fast and without any logical reason that is impossible to believeEthan Hawk makes a big effort to with his character (frankly, never trust his character with any investigation) and Emma Watson surprises with her dual personality character. The rest of the cast does whatever they can; but no magic can be done with an script without any proper progression that keeps asking to accept the absurd of a situation.In brief; avoid it !!!