HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:68
“Backtrack” hails back to a day when “I see dead people!” was something new and exciting. Sadly those days are long gone and the Australian supernatural thriller just plods along well-trodden ground in such a way that leaves the viewer with this inclination that they’ve seen this before somewhere. The theory is sound and works well in some ways, but there are so many plot holes and moments that make you go “wait? what?” that by the end of the 90 minute runtime you’re actually kind of glad that it’s over, despite the inclusion of a rather well done third act twist that ALMOST makes up for the lack of ingenuity in the first hour of the film. Well, ALMOST.
Psychologies Peter Bower (Adrien Brody) has had a bit of a rough year. He and his wife Carol (Jenni Baird) lost their daughter to a freak motor accident and the incident has haunted him ever since. Dealing with his patients has been a bit of an ordeal, but he survives thanks to the help of friend and fellow psychologist, Duncan Steward (Sam Neill). One day he meets a young patient by the name of Elizabeth Valentine (Chloe Bayliss), who just vanishes without a word. It doesn’t take long for Peter to realize that something is really strange. Not only is he dealing with the death of his daughter but these patients of his keep saying that they’re from the year 1987. The same year that a tragedy befell his home town. Even his friend Dr. Duncan reveals to him that even he is from that same year. A year that means that NONE of his patients are actually real.
Taking a leave of absences from his practice, Peter returns home to his drunk of a father and starts to peel back the onion layers of his memory. While he knows the events of that fateful summer (at least he THINKS he does), there is so much more than meets the eye. His patients are all part of a train wreck that happened due to his negligence of leaving a bike on the train tracks. A deed that has haunted the young grieving father for most of his adult life. However, memories are a tricky thing and as Peter digs deeper and deeper into the past he finds out that the psyche has an incredible way of covering up things that it doesn’t want remembered. Things that very well may uncover a mysterious death that the dead want to be solved.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69393[/img]“Backtrack” is a strange film. It seems to want to hearken back to the days of “The Sixth Sense” and other countless ghost films, but is done so ineptly and blandly that there isn’t much to really hold onto here. The plot holes throughout the movie are pretty stinking big and if you actually look even remotely critically at what happens on screen you start to wonder how the film even sticks together. How did Dr. Duncan act as Peter’s friend and psychologist when he himself is a ghost? Why do the OTHER ghosts on the train give a rip over the death of Elizabeth Valentine when she wasn’t part of the train wreck to begin with? The list goes on and on and after a while you start to scratch your head and wonder just what they were thinking.
The saving grace for the film comes in the form of the third act which takes a rather drastic turn in the story and ends up being the highlight of the film. I can’t say WHAT that twist is of course, as it really is the whole mysterious lynch pin for the entire plot, but I will say that it changes from “ooooo, spooky ghosts!” to a really nice thriller bit. The rest of the time the movie just spends way too much time trying to emulate “The Sixth Sense” rather than pave new ground. The movie isn’t all bad, as evidenced by the solid third act, but the film is rather devoid of any real scares for the horror hounds, and any real interesting twists for those who like a good thriller. Brody does a decent enough job and Sam Neill is wasted with his occasional cameo, but all in all it was just a semi decent rental territory experience.
Rated R for violence, disturbing images and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69401[/img]“Backtrack” comes to Blu-ray with a fairly standard 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer that is one of those “good” but not “great” transfers. It’s a fairly dimly lit film with lots of shadows and low light level sequences to give the film a somber and rather eerie feel. Indoors shows a lot of scenes where the shades are drawn, and the rest of the time takes place during the night with only ambient light to allow us to see the details. Colors lean towards the teal and brown end of the spectrum with glimpses of brighter primary colors here and there, such as when Peter goes into the Police Precinct to give his childhood confession. Fine detailing is satisfactory, with clothing looking the best out of all of the little details and black levels maintain strong clarity. There’s a bit of banding, but its very light and more of a nuisance than an actual problem.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69409[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track fares about the same as the video encode does. It’s a creepy and rather somber sounding experience that is actually rather front heavy most of the time. Dialog is the main ingredient here and while the track is mastered a bit low, the balance between vocals and the ambient noises coming from the surrounds and mains is done quite evenly. There’s a few jump scares (as one would expect from a film like this), but overall the train crash and some ghost screams are all that really get you to jump out of your chair. Surrounds and LFE are relegated to simple sounds coming from nature and the train crash, and the LFE mainly adds some weight to the afore mentioned bits.
• "The Psychology of Backtrack" Featurette
While “Backtrack” isn’t a terribly inventive film, it’s not really a BAD one either. There’s some fun twists and turns along the way despite the predictability of the venture. The third act turns from boring and Blaise ghost story to one that actually made me sit up and pay attention for the final 30 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend it is a great film, or even good film, but there’s some uniqueness to the flick and wasn’t a complete waste of time. Audio and video are solid but the extras are a tad light, leaving me with the decision to just leave “Backtrack” as a rental.
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, Robin McLeavy
Directed by: Michael Petroni
Written by: Michael Petroni
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 26th 2016
Buy Backtrack On Blu-ray at Amazon
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