Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Regression Movie Poster Image
Violent satanic-cult movie is a letdown.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Tries to make a point about how people, if they're not careful, can be swept away by panic and false beliefs. Unfortunately, this message is saved as a "surprise" for the end of the movie and doesn't leave much room for pondering.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters don't have any admirable qualities and treat others poorly.


Discussion about a father abusing his teen daughter. Nightmarish images of torture, satanic rituals, implication of chopping up a baby (not shown). Blood shown, satanic worshippers eat gory flesh. Intruders in house. Fighting, punching. Hypodermic needle jabbed into an arm. Suicide (jumping out of a window); talk of suicide. Scary sounds. Screaming/shrieking. Guns pulled but not fired. Brief scene of teen girl being tied to bed. Violent arrest of a man. Prisoner screams, freaks out.


Images of sex during a dream sequence. A woman's buttocks are seen as she straddles a man and grinds on him. Brief glimpse of a couple having sex in a car. Lead characters kiss.


Infrequent language includes a use of "f--k," a few uses of "s--t," and "son of a bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of an unseen character being a drunk.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bydashboard September 24, 2016

Regression? More like regret

I was looking forward to watching this, but honestly I don't think I will ever watch it again. I am not 17 or whatever age your meant to be to watch this,... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bythemovieman123 April 9, 2021

One word = Disturbing!!!

This movie includes satanism, allegedly eating baby, rape even though it is implied and violence and scary and disturbing themes.

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 ...

  • Families can talk about Regression's violence. How much is shown and not shown? What's the overall effect? What's the impact of violent media on kids?

  • 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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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