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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Regression

Regression, a 2015 psychological thriller written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar, compels to write about endings. I enjoyed this picture for what it was, a fairly taut thriller that kept you guessing. Although it has two to many dream sequences, it has a good performance by Ethan Hawke as a detective obsessed by a case.

I read, though, that this film got lousy reviews and mostly it had to do with the ending, which I will not spoil. What I learned about endings, from Robert McKee's Story, is that they should be unpredictable but inevitable, that is, you shouldn't be able to figure it out but when it happens it all makes perfect sense. I think that follows in Regression. It may be the beginning that sets it up for failure.

The story is set during a wave of hysteria around Satanic Ritual Abuse, or Satanists holding "black masses" and killing babies or some such. This immediately rang a warning bell, as I know the FBI has never substantiated even one case of it (Fox Mulder, on The X-Files, pointed that out, but of course he did come across the devil). A teen-aged girl (Emma Watson) has fled her home, accusing her father of sexual abuse. Hawke, on the case, enlists the aid of a psychologist (David Thewlis), to hypnotize the father for repressed memories. This opens a can of worms where a whole bunch of people are accused of Satanism, and Hawke starts to lose his mind.

I was involved with the film, enjoying it's dark overtones, and menacing scenes of black-robed Satanists. I knew something had to be up, but I just didn't know what. When the ending is revealed, it was a rather simple explanation, but the only one possible without carrying the film into complete ridiculousness.

For Amenabar, who also made Open Your Eyes and The Others, this is a step down, more like a TV movie. But I was never bored and there are some genuine scares.

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