Review: BACKTRACK (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Review: BACKTRACK (2015)

Following the tragic death of his daughter Evie (Emma O'Farrell) in an accident, psychologist Peter Bower (Adrien Brody) and his wife Carol (Jenni Baird) is trying to move on with their life. Then one night, a mysterious young girl named Elizabeth Valentine (Chloe Bayliss) show up all of the sudden at Peter's office. Not only her initials bear an eerie resemblance to Evie, but the young girl also happens to be the ghost of Peter's murky past. His mentor Duncan (Sam Neill) suggests Peter is just imagining things. But as the mystery deepens, it becomes clear that all clues lead back to where it all begins: his childhood home.

REVIEW: A supernatural horror about a tormented protagonist haunted by the ghost of his/her past has been done to death. Among the most popular movies in this particular genre is THE SIXTH SENSE (1999), in which this Australian chiller owes a huge debt to it. The movie also relies too much on the familiar genre trappings, especially when comes to sudden jump scares. Except for the one that takes place in the train, most of the jump scares feels cheap. Not to mention it takes time for Michael Petroni's screenplay (who also directed the movie) to pick up the steam. Even some of the CGI ghost appearances and makeups are spotty in places.

But beyond that, BACKTRACK is surprisingly watchable. Adrien Brody displays a subtle level of emotional tension to his tormented character as Peter Bower, and even manages to pull off a convincing Australian accent as well. Robin McLeavy, in the meantime, gives a strong supporting performance as the local policewoman Barbara Henning, who tries to help Peter uncover the mystery of his past. Although only appearing in a few scenes, Sam Neill manages to make his presence felt in his otherwise cameo appearance as Peter's shrink and mentor, Duncan.

Despite the tedious screenplay at the beginning, Petroni able to find proper footing once the movie takes place in Peter's hometown. Sure, the mystery is exposed earlier but Petroni sustains enough interest for the rest of its 90-minute running time with more elaborate twists and revelations.

Technical side may have been wobbly, but cinematographer Stefan Duscio brings an effective sense of foreboding dread to his moody lensing in this movie.

BACKTRACK offers nothing new in the supernatural-horror territory, but Adrien Brody's emotionally intense performance and sleight-of-hand storytelling approach manage to turn this into a surprisingly effective chiller.

* This review is written courtesy from GSC press screening *

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