A young girl is sexually abused by her father. Thus, begins the disturbing tale of a father and daughter torn apart, thrown into the center of a conspiracy that shocks the nation.
Genre : Mystery/Drama
Country : Spain/Canada
Ethan Hawke : Bruce Kenner
Emma Watson : Angela Gray
David Thewlis : Kenneth Raines
Director : Alejandro Amenabar
“She’s had a pretty shitty life.
Maybe she just…
wanted to get away from it all.”
I was somewhat excited to see this film. Not because of the reputation of the director Amenabar or the topic. And also not to see if Ethan Hawke manages to uphold his status as meritorious actor. But because I was curious about Emma Watson and whether she was able to shake off the personage Hermione Granger. I haven’t seen her at work (besides a meaningless role in “Noah“) as a lead actress since Harry Potter and I was wondering how she would cope as a more mature person. Indeed, she’s no longer that sweet, innocent girl (according to the tabloids, she plays now preferably with another kind of wand). As in Harry Potter, her character is kind of mysterious. But she didn’t quite succeeded in putting the Potter-past behind her, as Daniel Radcliffe did. Granted, she didn’t get much playing time to accomplish this.
The story takes place in Minnesota at the time that the U.S. was concerned about the scourge of satanic cults. These followers of Satan held meetings where they abused children, sacrificed animals and exhibited a persistent adoration for anything that was evil. However, afterwards it appeared to be a form of mass hysteria caused by the influence of the media and public opinion. One day the confused John Gray (David Dencik) walks into the office of detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) and states that he abused his daughter Angela (Emma Watson). This is the beginning of a sinister investigation with Satanism as a central topic. Although John can’t remember anything of the abuse and claims it’s impossible, this won’t stop him from admitting it anyway. To bring clarity to this all, they ask the assistance of Dr. Raines (David Thewlis), a psychologist who believes in the use of regressive hypnosis. A technique that uses hypnosis to retrieve repressed memories of traumatic events.
In any case, lots of praises for the performance of Ethan Hawke. The way he portrays the figure Bruce Kenner, is simply magnificent. A skeptical man who doesn’t give any credence to all the rumors but gradually gets sucked into the spiral of mass psychosis. Watson was far from bad, but ultimately her role was limited to occasionaly playing the hurt and confused daughter. Probably her half-naked appearance will make more of an impression than the rest of her rendition. Which in fact isn’t really fair. Her acting isn’t really memorable, but still commendable. David Thewlis (another “Harry Potter” actor) has the look of a psychiatrist and also delivers a decent performance.
The only thing missing in “Regression” was purposefulness. As a viewer, I didn’t know after a while whether I was watching a satanic horror film (similar to “Rosemary’s Baby“), a psychological thriller or a typical crime story. On the one hand it’s an indictment against religious mania where the line between faith and superstition fades at a given time. On the other hand it also denounces the used psychiatric methods. I’m sure you can doubt the accuracy of the results of those methods. In terms of atmosphere it’s certainly successful. Sinister, dark and at times even disturbing. But it’s never really creepy so to speak (despite the sound effects and some scenes). All in all it was a fairly predictable movie that doesn’t really surprise. Just as in “The Sisterhood of Night” it’s the rumor mill and the mass hysteria which are the main culprits. Not exactly fodder for an entertaining movie.