Trippy Memories

Flashback has to be one of the least accessible movies I have ever seen. Loosely playing with a linear narrative and multiple time periods all happening at once, it’s nigh incomprehensible and the storytelling is perplexing at best. Director Christopher MacBride’s film is overly busy and laden with enigmatic dead-ends, wasting a strong cast’s talent. Call me filtered but Flashback is mostly for die-hard Dylan O’Brien fans.

On the surface Flashback is a weird, trippy mystery about a man wondering what happened to a girl he briefly knew in high school. Frederick Fitzell (Dylan O’Brien) is a successful office worker with a wife and happy life, outside of a dying mother that doesn’t recognize her own son.

A few tender and poignant moments don’t save Flashback

Dealing with his troubled mother triggers hallucinatory visions, flashing back to Frederick’s high school days when he experimented with a dangerous drug called Mercury. The drug led him to a sketchy circle of friends in high school, including Cindy (Maika Monroe). Frederick ends up diving through his fractured memories as he reconnects with his old friends in the present. Seeking out what happened to the mysterious Cindy all those years ago leads him down the proverbial rabbit’s hole.

The mind-bending thriller has hints of Donnie Darko, The Butterfly Effect, and other dark thrillers that play with the perception of time. However, Flashback is less concerned with coherent storytelling than its murky, nearly epileptic visuals. It’s technically a well-made film with a consistent artistic tone, drenched in pretentious direction that tries compensating for an underwhelming screenplay.

What should be a stylish thriller with something to say about the human experience ultimately ends up being a dull, melancholic slog without much payoff. Dylan O’Brien holds up his end of the bargain with an engaging starring performance. He’s not to blame for Flashback’s messy and confused storytelling. A few tender and poignant moments don’t save Flashback.

Video

Flashback has pristine video quality with razor-sharp definition and immense depth, though a darker palette with limited saturation. Exceptions include the occasional hallucination, which are murky and intentionally soft. The 2.39:1 presentation receives a clean digital transfer presumably from a 2K intermediate.

The biggest issue in the 1080p video is a middling AVC encode with a couple notable shots of posterization and banding. The bitrates should have been sufficient but Lionsgate rarely spot-checks their encodes.

If you can get past the pretentious and arty direction, Flashback looks rather good on Blu-ray.

Audio

The lone 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio option is nicely immersive, creatively placing cues throughout the soundstage. Bass is selectively powerful, reinforcing some of the more horrifying imagery. The discrete surround design thoughtfully supports the intense action on screen, creating a haunting atmosphere.

Dynamics are maybe too strong, I constantly had issues with dialogue balance that forced me to use subtitles for a couple scenes. Dialogue was placed a little too low in the mix.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles play in a white font, outside the scope presentation.

Extras

Lionsgate digs up a few deleted scenes and a mostly explanatory commentary by the director. A slipcover is available on first pressings. The included digital copy redeems in HDX quality on VUDU or FandangoNow or iTunes or Google Play.

Director’s Commentary – Christopher MacBride helps break down his own film, explaining many of his intentions and behind-the-scenes issues. A dry but fair listening experience.

Deleted Scene #1 (00:52 in HD)

Deleted Scene #2 (01:38 in HD)

Deleted Scene #3 (01:29 in HD)

Flashback Theatrical Trailer (02:14 in HD)

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Flashback
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

A pretentious, underwhelming Donnie Darko rip-off due to a confusing screenplay.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

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