DIRECTOR Michael Petroni WRITER Michael Petroni STARS Adrien Brody; Sam Neill; Robin McLeavy CINEMA 29 January
With a paint-by-numbers script and little in the way of original story, there’s not much to recommend Backtrack. Adrien Brody puts in a reliably earnest performance, but it’s not enough to save an idea that remains in need of fleshing.
Opening straight to raison d’être — Peter (Brody), a psychiatrist, is grieving for his daughter; rapidly realises his clients are ghosts — director-writer Michael Petroni’s storytelling is blunt, lacking the finesse required for a supernatural mystery. The ghosts themselves are clearly signposted, and there is no drip feed to the intrigue required for mystery, due to a lack of character arc that results in a second act that is almost devoid of story. Perhaps more could have been achieved by amplifying Peter’s thought process as he concludes why he is haunted, but this is largely alluded to by anguished brow, the dearth of dialogue providing little range of emotion for Brody to convey.
The decision to include a thriller element is confused, particularly so in its tacking onto the end of what is overall a tenuously linked story. Even the intrusive soundtrack is an unblended layer, an attempt to evoke a fairytale sense that is entirely unfitting. A tiresome experience.