'Regression': EW review
Written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, The Sea Inside), Regression follows Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) as he investigates sexual abuse allegations made by a 17-year-old girl, Angela (Emma Watson), against her father, John Gray (David Dencik). John admits his guilt but has no memory of the atrocities, prompting psychologist Dr. Raines (David Thewlis) to use regression therapy to help him piece it together. The film takes an even more sinister turn when the therapy reveals that John is entangled in a satanic cult, which spreads panic through a small town in Minnesota.
The paranoia makes for an engaging mystery, full of bizarre accounts of devil worship. Hawke anchors the film as a cop who descends deeper and deeper into the monstrous, violent world he’s uncovered. In a particularly disturbing setpiece, Bruce walks through an old, rickety barn (of course there’s an old, rickety barn) where Angela has described a cult gathering taking place, and the terrifying scene comes alive in Bruce’s mind: worshippers in black robes with faces painted white, having sex, torturing people, and—worst of all—sacrificing a baby. By the end of it, Bruce is running out of the barn horrified, and you’re right there with him.
But while Regression does, for the most part, deliver simmering suspense—and with Watson and Thewlis together, it’s fun (and weird) to see a mini-Harry Potter reunion—the script often falls flat, and the film sometimes leans too heavily on the score to telegraph an ominous tone. The actual “big twist” at the end is predictable, but for viewers looking for counter programming to typical Valentine’s Day fare, it’s probably a better option than The Choice. B–