Regression follows detective Bruce Kenner (Hawke) who is investigating a case of parental abuse in 1990 Minnesota. Angela Gray (Watson), 17, has accused her father, John, of molestation, and he unexpectedly admits guilt, sending shock waves through their small town. However, he doesn’t actually remember the molestation or doing it.
Detective Kenner and psychoanalyst Professor Kenneth Raines (Thewlis) use an experimental treatment called Recovered Memory Therapy, or Regression, to regain these repressed memories. Shocking details begin to come to light, with Angela claiming to have been abused as a part of a satanic ritual. The list of suspects quickly piles up, with various family members and friends accused of being part of the cult. Kenner desperately tries to find the truth, all while dealing with his own demons.
Regression is based on real reports of satanic ritual abuse that ran rampant in early ’90s America, and explores the mass hysteria that followed and the controversial method used to extract the memories of the accused cult members.
It’s a dark, almost Gothic film that packs some thrills and suspense. However, the story itself just didn’t reach its full potential — to explore the cerebral depths of religious hysteria when society’s faith in God is threatened. This is a truly interesting idea for a film, and could’ve turned out much better if the focus shifted from being a cut-and-paste psychological thriller to creating a believable and nuanced story line. Even the super-serious scenes featuring satanic rituals and the regression method are overwrought.
But the biggest issue with this movie is that the majority of the story is seen through the eyes of Detective Kenner, who just doesn’t have much of a backstory. All we know is that he’s a divorced “non-believer” with a bit of an impulse problem. Angela, the center of the drama and probably the more interesting of the two characters, is rarely part of the deeper, psychological conversation, making any sort of climax very anti-climactic.
Regression is ultimately a surface-level, self-serious film that acts as if the stakes are much higher than need be, and because we don’t really know these characters, it makes it that much more difficult to care.
We have three DVD copies of Regression to give away – if you’d like to be eligible to win one, tell us below what is your favorite Emma Watson or Ethan Hawke movie?
Special Features: a French version of the film, and a scene index.
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