Regression Blu-ray Review
Well, regressed, for sure.
Director Alejandro "Abre los ojos" Amenabar obviously had a master plan when it came to Regression, but the end result cannot possibly be what anybody intended.The story has Ethan Hawke's dogged detective investigating a case of alleged child abuse - involving Emma Watson's wounded teen - and uncovering what appears to be a more sinister satanic cult operating within the small town. At one point, perhaps, Amenabar's exploration of reality and illusion - distorting the picture both for the characters and the viewer - would have thrilled and captivated, and left that uneasy feeling which was so prevalent in Abre los ojos that it even carried through into the unusually impressive remake Vanilla Sky. Here, with a cast that - but for the reliably committed Hawke - doesn't appear in the least bit bothered about the subject-matter, the end result marks the nadir of Amenabar's career.At times it almost feels like they weren't even told about the twists and turns in the script until they got to that day of the shoot, leaving you with an unpleasantly bad taste about the whole shallow affair. It's dramatically inert; its characters (again beyond Hawke's) are painted in monochromatic single dimensions, its plot is more tedious than tense, and its horror mystery vibe, which could have easily dabbled in Wicker Man / Angel Heart territory, with even a bit of Primal Fear thrown into the mix, instead wastes such lofty ambitions on the likes of Watson, who appears intent of becoming an expert at 50 shades of pathetic. There may have been a good idea here, but you'll never find it, and what we're left with instead is just plain bad.
Picture QualityThe video presentation promotes rich shadow detail and reasonably consistent quality.
Regression hits UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a strong, although far from reference, 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the film's original limited theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen. Detail remains strong throughout, with impressive clarity in particular for the daytime exteriors, which handle the moody, almost monochromatic palette the best. Interiors are still reasonably well translated - some better than others - with only a hint of softness apparent in a few scenes, and far more than manage to showcase the best that the format has to offer, including one or two well-captured darker sequences bathed in splayed beams of light and surprisingly strong shadow detail. Still, it's not reference - or even demo - standard, and largely remains a strong if unspectacular video presentation.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also strong but by-the-numbers.
Dialogue is well-prioritised across the front and centre channels, remaining clear and coherent throughout, and occasionally even panning through to the surrounds (the police briefing exploits this). Effects are limited, but allow the environment to come to life where appropriate; it's far from engulfing, but, since the style of the piece appears to be reliant upon moody, disturbing silences, it's not surprising that the track relies on the same eerie nothingness to peddle its wares. The score is generic as hell, but arguably suits the tone and narrative, providing further surround material and rounding out what is a strong, faithful but far from demo or reference rendition of largely uninspired material.
ExtrasAside from a few Preview Trailers on disc startup, the only extra features we get are a trio of mini-Featurettes looking at the story and the two lead actors - and their respective roles. And 'mini' really does mean just that, with each of the three barely running more than 2 minutes in duration.
Blu-ray VerdictI'm not entirely sure why Emma Watson keeps getting acting gigs, but films like this are a reason why she shouldn't.
The UK Blu-ray release of Regression provides decent enough video and audio, and a pitiful smattering of extras, and should certainly please fans. However there's little of any substance here and, even if you're itching to check it out, consider it a tentative rental at best.
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