Monday, June 27, 2016

Film Review: Backtrack (2015)

Backtrack (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It will be a familiar film for most horror fans due to the writing, but it is still an entertaining horror movie."

Psychologist Peter Bowers (Adrien Brody) is thrown into a tailspin when he discovers his patients are actually deceased...

Before you scream at me for 'spoiling' the movie, you should know that I have not spoiled anything after the first act. Regardless, there isn't much to spoil for experienced horror/thriller fans. Backtrack follows Peter Bowers, a troubled psychologist who lost his daughter in an unfortunate accident. He tries to move on with his life, but he simply cannot. He eventually finds his patients are dead. So, to put their spirits to rest, he must backtrack to a darker part of his life. He returns to his childhood home and begins to investigate his past. The deeper he digs into his memories, the more secrets he finds. Sound familiar? Well, you've probably watched this film in one form or another before. It really doesn't break any new ground. It does lead to a decent ending, though.

Backtrack is an interesting horror film. The plot is often predictable and contrived. You can guess many of its twists and turns before they even occur. That doesn't make it a bad film, though. It's certainly safe and familiar, but it's not bad. In fact, it was entertaining and engaging throughout its short runtime. It has an eerie atmosphere, occasionally making your skin crawl. There is some moderate suspense here and there, enough to keep you awake and engaged. The horror visuals can feel out of place, but they work more often than not. There are even a few effective jump-scares tossed in for good measure. (Surprisingly, the jump-scares didn't use loud-music.) The plot was often predictable, but the mystery was interesting. I won't pretend like I guessed every single turn, either. It's a very well made package.

The acting was also very good. Adrien Brody delivers a great performance, proving he's still an effective actor. Sam Neill also performs very well, offering great support in his limited screen time. The cast is all around great. The film looks good and the music matches the mood. Some of the computer effects are blatant, but those are limited throughout most of the runtime. Backtrack is written by Michael Petroni. Petroni is an effective horror director. He knows how to craft suspense, he can startle an audience with an effective jump-scare, and he knows how to balance style, atmosphere, and narrative. Petroni is also a competent writer. However, in terms of writing, he doesn't seem to take many chances. I would love to see him direct a horror film he doesn't write. (I wasn't a big fan of his writing in The Rite, either.)

Overall, Backtrack is a very good movie. It will be a familiar film for most horror fans due to the writing, but it is still an entertaining horror movie. It's atmospheric, it's frightening, it's engaging, and it's well-directed. For fans of the genre, especially if you haven't seen a similar film in a while, this is well worth a rental or a cheap purchase.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, some disturbing images.

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