Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, Flashback, Flashback, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Dylan O'Brien, Maika Monroe, Hannah Gross, Emory Cohen, Keir Gilchrist, Amanda Brugel, Josh Cruddas, Sima Fisher, Aaron Poole, Liisa Repo-Martell, Christopher Macbride, Drama, Mystery, Thriller film rating



By Ashley Teresa
23rd September 2021

Writer/Director Christopher MacBride's ('The Conspiracy') new film 'Flashback' suggests that one can live in multiple timelines, and watching this film would have you believe it to be true - it's a film that you're forgetting as you watch it. Despite a solid effort from MacBride and his lead star, Dylan O'Brien ('Love and Monsters'), 'Flashback' tries its hardest to tell a new loopy sci-fi thriller tale, yet forgets to be either intriguing or intelligible.

O'Brien stars as Fred Fitzell, a young man whose seemingly monotonous existence is given the shake-up of a lifetime as the belated effects of an experimental drug he took in high school kick in. Unsure if disturbing visions from his past are just visions anymore, an increasingly unsettled Fred reaches out to his old classmates (Emory Cohen, 'Lords of Chaos', and Keir Gilchrist, TV's 'Atypical') to investigate how the drug mercury (or "merc", for the syllabically challenged) may have played a role in the disappearance of his classmate Cindy (Maika Monroe, 'Villlains'), and caused a tear in the time-space continuum.


There's an admirable effort to mirror Fred's grip on what he perceives to be reality through editing, and the film by design often makes it difficult to discern what moment in time we are watching (no doubt aided by O'Brien's youthful appearance - more on that later). It's the kind of filmmaking that should spark excitement in the viewer, but in this case, it's the only thing 'Flashback' has to cling onto, and signals the lack of substance in the film's storytelling. The origins of the drug causing this cataclysmic tear in Fred's reality are never explained, even though the film teases at the larger universe it's apparently connected to. Similarly, a major revelation about the universe of human existence is hardly to be expected from this 97-minute B-thriller, but the lessons 'Flashback' does put forward - appreciating what one has, keeping loved ones close, etc - are so pedestrian that one wonders why all the fuss is even needed. This is especially disappointing as, for all the audience knows, Fred does these things anyway - the opening scene is literally Fred visiting his sick mother in the hospital. We learn so little about who Fred is, and his aftereffects of mercury kick in very early in the film, so it's unclear as to how this journey is meant to transform him. There are no stakes or incentives to care, and when combined with the intentionally confusing storytelling, MacBride ends up actively discouraging audience investment.

Despite the film's shortcomings, major props need to be given to O'Brien, who turns in a great performance no matter what disaster of a script he has thrown at him. O'Brien, who turned 30 last month, is one of few actors who can still convincingly play a teenager despite those years being far behind him - in fact, his performance as loveable nerd Stiles in TV's 'Teen Wolf' has made it forever jarring to see him in a suit, or a board meeting. I have a history of insisting that he has the star power and charisma for a lengthy and high-calibre film career, but the projects he picks consistently let him down. The exact same can also be said for his co-star, Maika Monroe. First poised to be a scream queen after the 2014 one-two punch of 'The Guest' and 'It Follows' (which she and O'Brien both together starred in), her less-than-stellar filmography since is nothing short of a disappointment. This very capable actress is given next to nothing to do in 'Flashback' either, and it's a shame; she's a cyberpunk variant of the manic pixie dream girl trope, complete with heavy eyeliner and blue hairstreaks. She's a concept, a lesson to be learned, rather than a character with dimension.

'Flashback' tries it's hardest to tell a new loopy sci-fi tale, but forgets to be either intriguing or intelligible.

'Flashback' decides in the third act that if it can't be compelling from a narrative standpoint, it'll try to be interesting visually, delving headfirst into strobe effects and trippy visuals, but by then it's too little too late. What's worse is that the repetitive nature of the final half-hour makes 'Flashback' feel like it could have ended at any point without impacting the story (I was convinced I was watching the film's climax, but upon checking the time, I realised I still had 40 minutes left). It all culminates in the cinematic equivalent of a shrug. When MacBride goes out of his way to obfuscate any moments of actual emotional depth by questioning the reality of everything we see, how is the audience meant to find meaning in the meaningless?

There's nothing more disappointing than seeing a film with a great premise completely fumble its execution. My initial assessment of 'Flashback' was that it was a flat-out bad film, but in all honesty, it's too boring to even associate strong emotions with. Perhaps, in another timeline, there's a version of this movie that works.

AKA: The Education Of Fredrick Fitzell
RELEASE DATE: 23/09/2021
RUN TIME: 1h 37m
CAST: Dylan O'Brien
Maika Monroe
Hannah Gross
Emory Cohen
Keir Gilchrist
Amanda Brugel
Josh Cruddas
Sima Fisher
Aaron Poole
Liisa Repo-Martell
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Christopher Macbride
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Who the hell is Bloodshot? - A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
TRENDINGWHO THE HELL IS BLOODSHOT?A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two - New villains, same problems
Buckley's Chance - Not worth a chance
Calm with Horses - A savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
TRENDINGCALM WITH HORSESA savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
Shiva Baby - A comedy of discomfort
TRENDINGSHIVA BABYA comedy of discomfort
The Glass Room - Stunning yet soulless
TRENDINGTHE GLASS ROOMStunning yet soulless
Some Kind of Heaven - A bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
TRENDINGSOME KIND OF HEAVENA bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
The Swallows of Kabul - Unflinching and gorgeously animated
TRENDINGTHE SWALLOWS OF KABULUnflinching and gorgeously animated
Cerulean Blue - Promising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
TRENDINGCERULEAN BLUEPromising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
2:22 - Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
TRENDING2:22Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
Birds of Prey - I'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
TRENDINGBIRDS OF PREYI'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
La Dolce Vita - Not as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
TRENDINGLA DOLCE VITANot as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!