Review: ‘Backtrack’ a high-class horror lacking in the thrills
Adrien Brody’s surprisingly respectable Australian accent is the highlight of “Backtrack,” a high-class horror exercise that’s effectively moody but rarely scary. Fright fans more interested in thematic depth than visceral thrills may appreciate what writer-director Michael Petroni attempts, but even they’d likely admit there’s not much to savor.
Brody plays Peter Bower, a psychologist struggling to reckon with a recent accident that claimed his daughter’s life. When he notices a paranormal connection among his current patients, Peter returns to his hometown to get to the bottom of the mystery.
SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter >>
Sam Neill has a nothing role as the hero’s backstory-spilling mentor, while Robin McLeavy brings spark to the second half of “Backtrack,” playing a local cop with her own link to Peter’s case.
Petroni is best known for writing the adapted screenplays for “Queen of the Damned” and “The Book Thief,” and he has a nice eye as a director too, conveying his protagonist’s melancholy via deep, screen-consuming shadows.
But while everyone involved with “Backtrack” is a polished pro, the movie’s tastefulness gets in the way of the suspense. Conflating grief and ghosts is a fairly common approach in horror, but filmmakers usually make sure to mix a few jolts in with the moping.
MPAA rating: R, for violence, disturbing images and language
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.