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 (who, aside from this blip, appears to have had something of a career resurgence of late) - 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. If even the cast can't convince, how on earth are we supposed to join them for the ride?
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.
It's a dramatically inert empty vessel of a film; 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, when in fact the crux of the entire narrative rests upon her ability to convince. I'm not entirely sure why she keeps getting acting gigs, but films like this are a reason why she shouldn't.
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