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USD $1 ₱ 55.45 0.0000 December 1, 2023
December 1, 2023
Ultra Lotto 6/58
₱ 179,526,061.80
₱ 67,676.00

‘Backtrack’ Rarely Puts its Characters in Peril

The movie mainly follows its main character as he retraces old steps and slowly rediscovers details about an event from his past that he has buried in his subconscious.

Backtrack begins with a pretty silly conceit, and then only manages to get sillier. The movie's initiating action involves the main character discovering that almost the people he's interacted with over the course of some time have all actually been dead. Putting aside the strange logistics that would make that plausible, the movie then goes on to outline a story where all the movement in the plot involves the protagonist remembering something. Ostensibly some sort of horror movie, Backtrack fails to provide the sort of peril that gives the genre its fuel.

Peter (Adrien Brody) is a psychiatrist in Australia. He and his wife have been struggling with their grief over the death of their daughter. While his wife medicates, Peter tries to busy himself with work. But he discovers that all of the patients he's been seeing are actually ghosts. Distressed, Peter investigates the matter to figure out what is going on. The one thing that links all of them is a single date, and this forces Peter to confront a painful chapter in his past. He returns to his hometown, digs up old sins and deals with the consequences.

The movie mainly follows its main character as he retraces old steps and slowly rediscovers details about an event from his past that he has buried in his subconscious. In other words, this is a movie about a guy trying to remember something. If that doesn't sound exciting, that's because it isn't. A good bulk of the story is just misdirection, the movie stalling for time while it builds up a big, totally underwhelming twist. The plot putters along, the ghosts gradually nudging Peter towards a truth that he already knows.

This is mainly what the ghosts do in the movie: nudge. They seem to have the capacity to actually affect things in the real world. They can even talk directly to Peter. But rather than simply tell him what he needs to do, they just kind of hint at what the next step should be. It is strange that they are bothering Peter at all. In the end, it is shown that the ghosts have the capacity to extract justice on their own, without the help of Peter or anyone from the mortal world. But for the majority of the film, they seemed to be content to just push this one man around, causing him great distress when they could have just been doing everything themselves.

Since the ghosts mostly want the main character to just remember something, there isn't much of a sense of danger to the proceedings. There are a few jump scares here and there, but that just feels counterintuitive. It's a little tough to understand how popping up and startling someone is supposed to help them in the long run. Production values are mostly unremarkable. Adrien Brody is cast here as an Australian, which is a puzzling choice. He restrains himself with regards to the accent, but it's still getting in the way of clarity.


It might be noted that cinemas appear to be showing a shorter version of Backtrack, one that presumably has some of the grislier scenes cut out. The movie doesn't seem to be inclined to be grisly in the first place, but we still managed to get an extra tame version. It all turns out to be very boring, the movie unable to wring much excitement out of its story of some guy trying to remember something that happened a couple of decades ago. Adding ghosts to that basic concept doesn't really make it any better. If anything, it just opens it up to a much wider realm of illogic.

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Mystery, Thriller
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