Ignore the hyperbole title; this low-budget British horror-thriller is a far cry from the Nazisploitation shockers that we’ve been subjected to over the years.
The story follows a journalist, Ralph (Drake) who seeks regression therapy from his friend, Claudia (Ackerman) to help with his recurring nightmares. It turns out he may have been a commando in the Nazis who attacked in the South Downs. Along with their partners (who happen to be having an affair), they go on a camping holiday to the area he has seen in the visions.
Once there, he begins recalling more and things take a turn for the sinister when their partners disappear – abducted while having sex by a man with a burn fixation. As Ralph and Claudia unravel the disturbing memories, the danger heightens…
Originally given the less salacious title, Backtrack (and just released stateside as Backtrack: Nazi Regression), this feature debut from Sands (with his father taking writing duties) is ambitious and intriguing. Having directed mainly documentaries, one would expect the style to be more akin to found footage, but thankfully this is one low-budget filmmaker who has avoided that well-worn route (at least for now). Although far from perfect, it’s an entertaining and occasionally brutal shocker that is brave enough to attempt an elaborate story, rather than go for cheap shocks. The uneasy sense of dread and anxiety is well handled, and the gore effects are sickeningly realistic (except for a suspect blood stain). The fabulous cinematography by Haydn West makes the most of the luscious Brighton countryside while also adding to the atmosphere of the dimly-lit torture scenes. It’s only really the inexperience of the actors that throws you out of the film at times. It’s not a major problem for anyone used to watching films of this level of budget, though, and doesn’t happen too often.
There’s lots of interesting flourishes in the visuals – particularly during the hallucinations Ralph experiences with elements of the image become blurred, highlighting the blurring of reality in his mind – and although hardly seen until the climax, veteran Julian Glover is as fabulous as one would expect. It could possibly be a little too talky for some audiences, but worth giving a go if adventurous, thoughtful horror is your bag.
INFO: CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: TOM SANDS / SCREENPLAY: MARK SANDS / STARRING: MARK DRAKE, SOPHIE BARKER, JULIAN GLOVER, ROSIE AKERMAN, MILES JOVIAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW