A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Regression is a thriller with horror elements. It deals with the possibility of satanic cults and includes imagined/dreamed rituals, including slicing up babies and eating them (this is strongly implied but not actually shown). There's some blood and discussion of a father abusing his teen daughter; other violent/upsetting moments include a suicide, fighting, punching, and guns being drawn (but not fired). A woman has sex with a man, presumably during a dream; she straddles him, and her buttocks are shown as she grinds on him. There's another very brief image of a couple having sex in a car. Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "bitch," and "s--t." The movie tries to make a point about the danger of succumbing to mass hysteria, but it doesn't really work. Not many teens will care, despite the fact that Harry Potter's Emma Watson stars.
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What's the story?
In 1990, in Minnesota, police detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) investigates the case of a man accused of molesting his teenage daughter, Angela (Emma Watson). The man believes he's guilty, even though he can't remember actually doing anything. Professor Kenneth Raines (David Thewlis) is called in to perform hypnotic regression therapy, which reveals terrifying suggestions of satanic cult rituals. The further Bruce digs into the case, the deeper the images of the sinister practices become etched in his brain. Yet he can't find a shred of evidence. Will Bruce get to the bottom of this strange case?
Is it any good?
This is a movie that, because it deals with secrets, promises thrills and possibly a measure of terror, but everything is based on an anti-climax, and the result is a resounding "so what?" In the beginning of his career, Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar made the superb, mind-bending thriller Open Your Eyes, which inspired an American remake (Vanilla Sky). He followed it with the terrific ghost story The Others, but since then, his work has become turgid and spotty.
And he seems to be on auto-pilot with REGRESSION, installing the obligatory twists and surprises from his earlier films without realizing that the movie's basic message (about mass hysteria) would have been better served with a straightforward approach. As a result, the actors seem detached, as if not sure where their characters are headed. In particular, Hawke and Thewlis' characters might have made an interesting team, but they don't really connect. Neither does anything else in this movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
What role does sex play in the story? Is it related to love or violence? What message does that send?
The movie's main point is that humans are capable of succumbing to mass hysteria. Do you agree, based on what you saw? Why or why not?
- In theaters: February 5, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 10, 2016
- Cast: Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis, Emma Watson
- Director: Alejandro Amenabar
- Studios: Radius TWC, The Weinstein Company
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent and sexual content, and for language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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