17th Jun2021

‘Flashback’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Hannah Gross, Emory Cohen, Keir Gilchrist, Maika Monroe, Amanda Brugel, Donald Burda, Myles Isen, Liisa Repo-Martell | Written and Directed by Christopher MacBride

Time travel, time loop or any such movies are always are hard one to get right. When done right they can be thought-provoking, intriguing and enjoyable. But if it isn’t done correctly, they turn into a confusing mess of a film that adds questions with no answers. Flashback tackles these problems head-on.

We meet Fred (Dylan O’Brien) who, at age thirty, is a bit lost in his ways, unsure about his job and his relationships and now thinking about his youth. Unfortunately for him his high school years are a bit of a blur because he was addicted to a drug named ‘mercury’. Although his mind is hazy e wants to find out what happened to the girl he had a crush on, Cindy (Maika Monroe). By chance, he meets an old school friend in a strip club an looks to seek some answers. And that’s about as simple as it gets.

The film continuously jumps from present day to the characters high school days but thankfully this isn’t as confusing as it could be. All the actors play the same roles in each period (they might have been cast because they all look like they could be either eighteen or thirty years old) but it is always obvious which time period we are watching. That said, for most of the movie you’re not entirely sure what is going or where things are leading. For the most part, this is a good thing. Flashback keeps you thinking and guessing without being to complex. At least for the first seventy five minutes.

At that seventy five minute mark it felt like the film was wrapping up and had came to an obvious, if slightly unsatisfying conclusion. But then we get another twenty minutes which becomes a whole lot more baffling than the rest of the movie.

Flashback maintains a dream-like atmosphere throughout its runtime and this is owed much to the score, creating the atmosphere almost single-handedly. That said, there are some nice editing moments and camera work which help too. One scene in which the cinematography stands out includes both present day and the past changing a second at a time in the same location. But there are a few similar good uses of effects to give that dream state to the viewer that the characters are also feeling.
I feel like I mention this in every movie review lately but there’s good use of synthwave music, a style of music that can seem to add something to almost any genre of film. Although it may feel overused at the moment, I love it and can’t hear it enough.

While I wouldn’t go as far to say the highly-talented cast are wasted, I did expect more when I saw the names involved. Dylan O’Brien is best known for the Maze Runner trilogy but recently showed he’s not a one (well three) hit pony with the enjoyable Netflix hit Love and Monsters and here he is centre of attention. He is decent too but because the character purposefully, is a bit bland, he doesn’t show his full potential. Whereas Maika Monroe (The Guest, It follows) and Keir Gilchrist (Atypical) don’t get much screen time at all and when they do it doesn’t feel very purposeful, with their characters having very depth or interest for the viewer.

Flashback would probably be worth a re-watch or two just to figure out exactly what is happening but you’d probably come up with different ideas each time. Is there time travel involved? Is it simply past and present or is Fred mis-remembering things from his past? Or is it alternate realities? There’s alot to take in.

Unfortunately Flashback isn’t as engaging or thought-provoking as it wants to be. I did enjoy the ride getting there but after ninety minutes or so I was left more confused than ever.

*** 3/5

Flashback is out now on digital from Vertigo Releasing.


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