Sometimes I think I am invisible!

Released : 2015backtrack-01

Director : Michael Petroni

Main Cast : Adrian Brody, Robin McLeavy, George Shevtsov, Sam Neill and Chloe Bayliss

The longer term readers of this site will know about the Youtube playlist that I have that contains films that I want to watch and review (if small enough and unknown enough to warrant being on this site), and one of the longest serving videos on that list was the trailer for this mystery/horror movie starring three actors I generally enjoy watching.

One of the three is Robin McLeavy, who was magnetic as the dangerous and mentally disturbed Lola in “The Loved Ones”, one of my favourite horror films that I have reviewed for this site (I’m now in a mood to simply rewatch that instead). If you ever get a chance to watch that movie then I would highly recommend it.

But anyway, yes, this is a film that I have been wanting to watch for a while and as I’m determined to do more reviewing than I did in 2016, I thought I’d start working my way through the aforementioned list properly, and the first one that I was able to locate was this after trying a few at random. Rest assured that all on that list will be watched at some point or another, and potentially reviewed, with maybe the exception of “Zon 261”, which I heavily fear will never actually be made.

But anyway, let’s see if this was worth the wait.

Plot

Peter (Brody) is a psychiatrist who has recently moved to try and move on from his young daughter dying in an accident. There he inherits new patients from friend and mentor Duncan (Neill). One day he gets a visit from a mute girl named Elizabeth (Bayliss) who says nothing before leaving a note that simply reads “12887”, however, when researching Elizabeth, he realises that was the dates of her death, 12/8/87, and more worrying, all of the new patients that Duncan gave him also died around that date.

He approaches Duncan about it, but it turns out that his friend has also been dead for some time and also died on the same date as the others. Peter decides to revisit his old town to try and recover mentally. Peter runs into his old friend, but they soon argue bitterly about it and Peter becomes even more riddled with guilt as he realises that all of his patients were passengers on board a train that the two accidentally derailed when they were teenagers.

Feeling guilty, Peter goes to the police station to report the incident to officer Barbara Henning (McLeavy), daughter of one of the victims of the train accident. Peter is soon visited by the ghost of Duncan again, but it turns out there is more to the death of his daughter, and the train accident, than meets the eye.

backtrackrev

Worth the wait?

In short, no.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some decent bits about the film, such as the element of Peter being partly responsible for the deaths of all of those people who he was given as patients by Duncan, adding a great level of depth to the character, but the problem is that the film is largely boring.

I don’t like using that word when describing films of any variety, but it goes to just over half an hour into the film and it dragged so badly that I just wanted it to be over because it was just tedious. The film is presented in such a lifeless, unimaginative way that it is really hard to get invested in the movie, characters or indeed the intended emotional depth that they try to bring to the film.

“Backtrack” starts off interestingly enough, and it’s slick and stylish in it’s presentation, but realistically it gives you the twist of the train journey, and then another twist, and another, and another, so much so that it made writing the plot summary above quite tricky.

backtrack1

Then again, the film is so concerned with fitting in as many twists and false-revelations that it be hard to shoe-horn that in. Whilst it wasn’t hard to follow, “Backtrack” definitely became tedious the more it went on as it kept changing things. For example, in the space of seemingly a few days, Peter goes from meeting the character to Elizabeth to practically handing himself in to the police for something he hasn’t been able to admit since his teens. If you’re going to evolve your story, at least make it feel natural and not forced beyond the point of having no sense of realism.

By the time you get to the final twist of the film, the point of having a twist has lost all realistic meaning and when it is revealed what really happened on the night of the train wreck, you no longer care because it is just yet another twist. The best twists, and by that I mean the ironic ones, are ones you don’t feel are coming, such as the ones in films such as “Fight Club” and “The Sixth Sense”, but one of the other reasons they’re so effective is because they don’t have a twist every fifteen minutes or so.

But anyway, back to the characters and the rest of the story. Every emotion feels false and unnatural, other than those revolving around Barbara when she realises that Peter caused the accident that resulted in her mother’s death. McLeavy is unsurprisingly charming, although she isn’t given the chance to show her full range of an actress with a largely uninteresting script.

The thing is that no-one is actually putting in a bad performance. I can’t look at a single performance and say that they were bad, but ultimately there is only so much that good actors can do with a film that tries to be more than it is. I believe a quote from Christopher Lee sums it up quite well, “Everyone is in bad films, the key is not to be bad in them”.

“Backtrack” is a film that I never intend on watching again, and I can’t think of a single reason to recommend it to you.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re going to watch this because you’re a Sam Neill fan, don’t bother. His screen time is five minutes, at most.

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Summary

“Backtrack” certainly tries its hardest to be a unique psychological horror film, but it fails to get the basis premise of a horror film right, in other words, make it interesting. There is a great level of emotional depth in the near ninety minute run time, but this is countered by a largely dull and lifeless script.

No-one is actually bad in this film, it’s just a bad film. There are too many twists and false “true” versions of what happened that by the time you actually get to what has happened, you don’t really care, and no film should ever make you not care.

Australian cinema has much better films to offer, so if you’re going to watch one then please watch something else.

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