Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, Robin McLeavy
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…all very silly and over the top…
The basic premise of this Australian thriller is that psychiatrist, Peter Bower (US import, Adrien Brody, with a fairly credible Aussie accent), makes a startling discovery: his patients are all actually ghosts. This makes Bower – who is grieving inconsolably over the recent death of his young daughter, Evie – fear for his own sanity. And it makes us, the viewers, wonder initially whether (a) he’s just hallucinating crazily or (b) we’re in the realm of the supernatural.
The deeply distressed Bower, who blames himself for Evie’s death – apparently with good reason – talks to his own shrink, Duncan Stewart (Sam Neill). He also returns to his rural home town, where most of the story unfolds, in a desperate attempt to unravel certain truths and hopefully obtain some peace of mind. What follows is connected with a terrible train crash and some other possible unpleasant events. But given that what little pleasure there is to derive from this film is all connected with suspense, it’s definitely time to draw a discreet veil over any further plot detail.
Backtrack starts feebly, but improves to a level where it engages our curiosity. The use of music, though as subtle as a sledgehammer (like everything else about this movie), is effective enough. There are a couple of good twists, and the drama is played mercifully straight and without irony, but it’s all very silly and over the top, with precisely no sense of pacing or light and shade. And as psychological thriller/horror films go, it breaks no new ground – we’re strictly in sub-sub-Hitchcock or Claude Chabrol territory here. Backtrack is mediocre at best.