If you like plot heavy movies, then 'Flashback' won’t be for you.
Flashback is the latest feature film from writer and director Christopher MacBride. The trailer looked intense and a bit trippy, echoing movies that play with your sense of time like The Butterfly Effect or Jacob’s Ladder. The movie stars Maika Monroe who has done a slew of interesting bit roles in It Follows, The Bling Ring, and Honey Boy, as well as Dylan O’Brien who is well known for his role in Teen Wolf. My interest was peaked because of the concept of time being altered and the overall sci-fi feel of the trailer.
MacBride wrote and directed Flashback and he fully commits to the story. The movie as a whole is more of an experience than anything else. MacBride intentionally keeps you off balance by only revealing bits of the story at a time in a nonlinear fashion. The editing admittedly contributes to the overall confusion of the story with quick cuts and blurring of movement that creates a jarring atmosphere. The main character Fredrick is off balance for much of the movie and MacBride dutifully makes you feel as off-kilter as he does. The energy of the movie is chaotic and you feel as if you’re on a drug fueled bender and you’re not sure what’s real or where you are. That’s a credit to MacBride’s directorial style. In another director’s hands it would have felt completely disjointed and hokey, but Flashback oddly works.
The plot is hard to follow and even harder to describe. We see the main character Fredrick in multiple stages of his life. In some scenes he’s a teenager living at his mom’s house, and at other points he’s a businessman who is engaged to be married. We flit between multiple moments in his life with no real delineation as to where we are or why. You might be tempted to latch onto the title of the movie, flashback, to help you navigate the confusion. But these moments aren’t flashbacks, they are happening simultaneously, and Fredrick has to figure out how to traverse this multiverse. These time lapses are triggered when Fred remembers a girl from high school, Cindy, who went missing. He becomes fixated on finding out what happened to her. During Fred’s time jumps we learn of a drug called Mercury that all the teens were using when he was in high school. This could explain the time vortex he finds himself in. Other than this vague description, it’s hard to summarize the plot. You really have to experience it for yourself.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Dylan O’Brien was the standout actor in Flashback. He has to play a wide age range from a teenager to a young businessman; he has to play a wide range of emotions as well as he pieces together what is happening to him. O’Brien keeps us somewhat grounded in the storyline. Despite not having access to all of the information, he is able to make us care about him and the events that happen. In a movie that is a whirlwind trip down a rabbit hole, O’Brien’s acting performance stands out and helps propel the emotional story forward. O’Brien is helped by Monroe who provides a haunting quality to the scenes she’s in.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The visual effects mainly come from the unique editing styles that blur images and splash white hot moments onto the screen. The overall design of the movie fits the storyline perfectly. The colors are dark and dingy which helps add to the confusion of the time jumps as well as the mystery of the drug Mercury. The visuals of the movie are perfectly suited to the fluidity of time that is on display.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The music captures the eerie tone of the movie accurately and adds to the heightened tension of each scene. It’s a fully immersive experience, and the music never detracts from what’s happening on screen. There’s nothing too memorable about the score, but it serves its purpose and helps build suspense to create the overall mood.
If you like plot heavy movies, then Flashback won’t be for you. Flashback is an experience, and you have to be ready to plunge into a story that at times doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s an intense watch and it goes by incredibly fast. The acting performances are phenomenal and MacBride is able to craft a compelling story in an atypical fashion. Flashback will undoubtedly have you scratching your head, but it gives you a lot of interesting elements to unpack.
FLASHBACK coming to select theaters and available everywhere movies are rented June 4, and on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital June 8 from Lionsgate