By James Hancock October 5th, 2015
I have a sentimental weakness for low-budget genre films and I’m willing to give the majority of them a pass for amateur acting, low production value or even a bad screenplay as long as I feel as if the director is doing their best to deliver a great moviegoing experience, one that hopefully takes more risks than your average conventional movie where the project has more resources at its disposal. The majority of the appeal of low-budget films is in the potential to see or experience something fresh and groundbreaking that a more risk-averse big studio might be afraid to attempt. But with Jose Nestor Marquez’s new science fiction movie Reversion, I get the feeling that the director had zero interest in taking any risks of any kind and was content to deliver a run of the mill movie that begins to fade from memory almost immediately upon watching it. Reversion is not a bad movie and I applaud any young filmmaker for taking on the challenge of directing an independent feature film, but this movie could have used a little more thought and effort both in the conception as well as the execution of the director’s vision. The film’s problems are compounded by a one-dimensional lead actress, Aja Naomi King, who is asked to do much with too little material. Aja Naomi King has a lot of credits to her name in television with shows like How to Get Away wtih Murder, Black Box and Emily Owens M.D. but sadly King lacks the raw charisma to carry what in the end is an uninspiring story.
The plot of Reversion centers around a new device called the Oubli, an earpiece that allows the user to experience memories in real time. Aja Naomi King plays the head of marketing for the device, one invented by her father played by Colm Feore. King has become the most vocal and successful advocate for the device prior to launch in that it allows her to enjoy reunions with her dead mother. But when she is inexplicably attacked and kidnapped, she becomes suspicious that there is more to the Oubli than she being told and what side effects it may have on the user. Convinced that essential information is being kept from her by her father about her mother’s death, she goes in search of the truth even if it means sabotaging the crucial upcoming launch of the Oubli into the marketplace. In the hands of a subversive director like David Cronenberg, Reversion might have become a truly unsettling tale about our overeliance on technology and our haste to be the first adopter of every hot new device. But the film’s glacial pace, lackluster cast, and timid approach to the action and violence inherent to the story all have a crippling effect on the film’s appeal. **mild spoiler** An interesting last-minute twist gives the story a chance to end on one of the most solid beats of the movie but it is too little and too late to redeem the film overall. With a final film that is neither edgy enough for indie audiences nor polished enough for the multiplex, I fear that Reversion faces an uphill battle in finding an audience.
Opening theatrically on October 9th, 2015 in New York (Empire 25), Los Angeles (Universal Citywalk) with a wider national release to follow.
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