Dylan O’Brien takes a (literal) trip down memory lane in the mind-bending sci-fi mystery Flashback.
After a chance encounter with a man forgotten from his youth, Fred literally and metaphorically journeys into his past.
The likeable O’Brien makes for a sympathetic and engaging protagonist. His eternal fresh-facedness means the flashbacks to him in high school are not jarring and helps to blur the lines between past and present.
The MacGuffin of a girl who went missing one day at high school becomes an obsession that threatens not only his job, relationship but also the very fabrics of his reality. The further down the rabbit hole he goes, the more dangerous it becomes.
Like the Mercury drug that is the key to unlocking the mystery, the film is a visual assault on the senses. The cinematography switches between dark & murky and bright neon colours. The editing is intentionally frenetic and jarring, causing the audience to question where in the story they are.
Writer-director Christopher Macbride has woven a plot as tightly knotted as a pair of headphones that emerge from a trouser pocket. The issue is that the untangling of them is incredibly complicated, confusing and even when laid bare will still have many viewers scratching their heads.
Like the title suggests, Flashback is a film that will require multiple viewings to make sense of. The problem is it is not engaging enough to merit revisiting.
Vertigo Releasing presents Flashback on digital platforms 4 June 2021
Director: Christopher Macbride
Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Maika Monroe, Amanda Brugel, Emory Cohen
Runtime: 112 minutes