Reviewed by Adam Donato
Dylan O’Brien stars in Flashback, a psychedelic thriller as a man who tries to find a woman from his past. The film is written and directed by Christopher MacBride whose only other notable project was directing The Conspiracy. The woman being searched for is played by genre favorite Maika Monroe. The movie was originally titled The Education of Fredrick Fitzell and was screened back in 2020 at the Sitges Film Festival.
O’Brien plays a man trying to get his life together as he gets a new place in his old hometown. Running into an old friend, he starts to have flashbacks from his life. Most importantly, he has flashbacks about how he experimented with drugs. Mercury was a popular drug in school and was exclusively associated with his meetings with Monroe. For some reason, he is completely obsessed with Monroe who mysteriously disappeared. His life is ruined by his inability to cope with the past.
The performances are all solid for what it’s worth. They all definitely seemed like they were on drugs the entire time. Monroe in particular is especially annoying as her character is constantly spouting off nonsensical wisdom about how people live their life. It’s almost depressing seeing O’Brien spiral out of control over some girl he took drugs with in high school. That being said, his arc by the end is satisfying enough to salvage the experience of watching this movie. His performance is certainly the most notable of the bunch. He does a good job of carrying the movie himself.
The flashbacks in the movie are visually interesting and lacking in any kind of comprehension. After a while, it’s hard to care whether they are in the past or present or if anything ever happened. By the end of the movie, nothing is accomplished and it feels like a complete waste of time. There’s this drug cult that seems to induce flashbacks from O’Brien. They pass him by throughout the movie and say random things to him repeatedly. It’s overly convoluted and the entire motivation of the protagonist is not strong enough to keep the audience invested in whatever is or isn’t happening.
It’s not terrible by any stretch, but Flashback is not necessarily worth your time. It’s also not popular enough for someone to make a YouTube video explaining the timeline. Fans of O’Brien are probably the only ones for whom this film would be recommended, as his performance is the most palpable thing in the film. However, anybody who recreationally used drugs should avoid it, as it is a depressing venture into the long-term effects of experimenting with drugs.
Flashback hits theaters and VOD on June 4.