Backtrack: Nazi Regression (a.k.a. Nazi Vengeance), 2014.
Directed by Tom Sands.
Starring Mark Drake, Sophie Barker, Rosie Akerman, Miles Jovian, Julian Glover and Jon Bartlett.
A man tries to connect with his past and conjures up more than he bargained for when that past comes looking for him.
Released in the UK on DVD as Nazi Vengeance back in February but about to get released in the US as Backtrack: Nazi Regression, this is the debut feature film of director Tom Sands and tells the story of Ralph (Mark Drake), a young man who has discovered via past life regression that he was a Nazi officer in World War II and had a connection to the village of Plumpton in the south east of England. Gathering up his high maintenance girlfriend Andrea (Sophie Barker), his psychic friend Claudia (Rosie Akerman) and her boyfriend Lucas (Miles Jovian) – who happens to be having an affair with Andrea – for a camping trip on the South Downs, Ralph pays a visit to Plumpton and the surrounding villages to try and find out about the history of the area and where he fitted in, but the four campers are being spied upon by somebody who knows exactly who Ralph was and he wants his revenge for events that happened 70 years ago.
So we have Nazis (always good value), past life regression (not something you see every day), the occult (of course) and an isolated location (which is nice) so the core ingredients are there for something interesting but unfortunately the budget and talent involved didn’t stretch quite as far as the ambition. Opening with a rather striking shot of the lush countryside the film gives you a definite sense of place very quickly and a lot of the photography in the film is very good, showing off some gorgeous sunsets and managing to create a slightly uneasy atmosphere once we get down into the tiny villages with their ancient churches and pubs. Throughout the film Sands’ camera manages to put you right there with the characters as it meanders around the sights with them and shows you the setting from some very imaginative angles.
But while the location plays something of a part in this film it is unfortunate that it manages to do that more convincingly than the relatively unknown main cast. Of the four campers it is the female actors who come across the best, and that is only because the two male leads are dismally bad, especially Mark Drake, who seems to be auditioning for a 1970’s television drama and tailors his line delivery as if he was still doing the pre-production read through. However, one name you may have noticed at the top of the page is that of Julian Glover (Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade) and his presence is felt very heavily amongst the relatively amateur cast, appearing as the main antagonist and adding a lot of gravitas but also putting everyone else to shame, making the scenes he is not in after he is introduced suffer all the more.
Ultimately, Backtrack: Nazi Regression is an ambitious first film from a director with big ideas but its obvious limitations make the end result feel very underdeveloped and unsatisfactory. If Tom Sands could capture those inventive moments and apply them to a narrative that trimmed away the fat and kept things moving along at a nippier pace then the rest may fall into place but as it is Backtrack: Nazi Regression’s moments of promise are few and far between.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★