Regression is a rather forgettable psychological thriller exploring a lot of fascinating themes. We will be following a police investigation into a Satanic cult that’s not only killing babies but also molesting children. The Catholic church better not hear about that last part, they might be stepping into their territory. Just kidding folks, the same goes for any organized religion. Hell, just a couple of days ago I watched a video of Dalai Lama first kissing a young boy on the lips and then asking him to suck his disgusting tongue. Although I think that these horrible men, and they’re almost exclusively men, just use religion and its power to get what they want. However, I’m getting distracted here, so let’s get back to the movie at hand.
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, best known for his masterpiece The Others, Regression is a movie full of mystery. You’re never really sure what’s going on and the more time goes on, the more you just want it to end. They tried to blend the horror and psychological aspects of the story but they simply would not mix. This left us with just the psychological part that’s actually done quite well. Ethan Hawke is the reason why you should see this movie. He gave one hell of a performance along with David Thewlis. Unfortunately, my homegirl Emma Watson was struggling with her role, never fully committing.
I don’t want to bother you with technical details because all of them were great. Regression is a movie that looks and feels great. The script, on the other hand, was just sufficient, stubbornly remaining one or even two notches away from excellence. The same goes for the whole movie. If you feel frustrated at the end of it, I recommend you check out The Ninth Gate. Now that’s a much juicier affair. Or better yet, take a look at The Believers, a movie not inspired by real events but a movie that inspired the horrific and very real events of Adolfo Constanzo’s murders.
John Gray kept praying as he was driving to the local police station to turn himself in. His daughter just confessed to her priest that John molested her but that’s not all. She also said that he’s a member of a secret Satanic cult and that there are others at risk. Detective Bruce Kenner jumps at the case and as he starts investigating it, things become increasingly complicated.
As soon as the movie starts, they tell us what Satanic Panic is, and right at that moment, any notion of tension disappears from Regression. This is a shame since the actual opening scene is quite gripping and it pushes you to find out what really happened. As I already mentioned the psychological aspects are quite fascinating although even they felt like a chore at times. Like you’re just waiting for the movie to go through the series of motions in order to end. But I’m willing to do anything for our Lord Satan.
I want to emphasize that this is coming from an extremely cynical person who’s already deep in the subject matter. For me, this was just too straightforward. So, if you’re new not just to the Satanic Panic but also to some of the psychological mechanisms on display here, you’ll probably have a different opinion. We will be delving into regression therapy, technically hypnosis, hysteria, paranoia, and all the other fun stuff. Regression claims to be inspired by true events and yet I could not find the case or cases they used in the movie.
The only one that comes even close is the Jordan Minnesota Satanic abuse case. However, there are plenty of other cases that much better illustrate the hideous witch hunts people had to endure during that time. I would like to single out the McMartin Preschool Trial and especially West Memphis Three, featured in the award-winning documentary Paradise Lost. A word of caution before watching that documentary, what is seen cannot be unseen. And what can be seen here is pretty fucked up.
To this day I remember the footage of those three young boys in the dried-up river creek. And the anger towards a dumb and tribal community directing their anger towards those who were a bit different. I better stop now before I go down another rabbit hole. Finally, I just want to say that yes, that is the poster for the Polish black metal band Behemoth you see in this movie. As above so below, Rabbit out.
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Writer: Alejandro Amenábar
Cast: Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis, Emma Watson, Dale Dickey, David Dencik, Aaron Ashmore
Fun Facts: Emma Watson was not nude in this movie as that particular scene features a stunt double.