Flashback is the new Dylan O’Brien psychological thriller set around time travel and experimental drugs. Frederick (O’Brien) is making his way through his mundane life without much success: he’s in a job he doesn’t enjoy, a relationship that doesn’t have much meaning and a dying parent who doesn’t know who he is anymore. Frederick is stuck but his life is turned upside down when he encounters a man from his high school days that he had long forgotten about. Once this meeting concludes, Frederick’s life is not what it seems and he has to tackle many issues both in the past and in his present.
Written & directed by Christopher MacBride, Flashback is an ambitious project by the fairly unknown filmmaker. Tackling and creating an original film with so much going on is a brave one to do, especially when you don’t have much to fall back on in regards to a filmography. It’s great that MacBride is confident to pioneer a film like this and at the best of times he pulls it off. Wonderfully shot by MacBride, Flashback benefits from being a visually impressive film that looks professional and is up to the task of delivering on a complex storyline. Although the film itself looks the part and is a visual spectacle, the plot can become convoluted and jarring at times. It happened many times throughout where we got a little lost in the storyline. It’s certainly one where you have to sit down and take in every moment of the story, otherwise you’ll get lost. Flashback deserves multiple viewings to truly appreciate the message it’s trying to convey, almost like Donnie Darko, a film that has quickly become one of the most loved cult movies that revolves around time travel and altering the future.
Adding another string to its bow, Flashback benefits from a strong lead and supporting cast. Dylan O’Brien from The Maze Runner franchise brings his experience of leading a film and gives a compelling performance as Frederick. By far and away the best performance in the film, O’Brien goes to show that he has more to offer than just starring in young adult book adaptations and can tackle complex roles in different films. Alongside O’Brien is the superbly talented Maika Monroe. Shining early in her career in indie hits such as It Follows and The Guest, Monroe gives another performance worthy of being talked about. Although her screen time is limited, her character Cindy ticks the boxes as the mysterious high schooler from Frederick’s past.
As cinemas are in full force this June, it’s important to remember that there are some hidden gems still in the darkness of the digital revolution. Flashback, with its flaws, is still a film worthy of giving a go. It’s ambition to try something new with an intriguing young cast packs a punch when it needs to. It delivers something that films at the cinema may be missing, so if you are after a mind bending film that may make your head hurt (for the right reasons) then give this one a go.
Vertigo Releasing presents Flashback on digital platforms 4 June 2021.