Repression (also known as Marionette) tells the story of therapist Marianne, played by Thekla Reuten, whose move to Scotland in an attempt to start a new life is thrown into disarray by a troubling young patient of hers. Themes of free will, religion and quantum theory are prominent in Marianne’s descent into madness, and Repression revels in its exploration of these concepts.
While it’s ostensibly a thriller, Repression’s scripting unfortunately lacks the subtlety to create or maintain any thrills, and it offers its supernatural twists too readily for any of the plot to come as a surprise. Within the first few minutes one can make predictions about the trajectory of the story very easily, and be proved right about every narrative beat.
The plot developments and “twists” are so explicitly telegraphed from the onset that it’s hard to have any kind of emotional response to anything happening onscreen, and the overarching themes are delivered so clumsily that the narrative ends up actively sabotaging itself. The characters also suffer at the hands of this narrative clumsiness, with the dialogue often opting to directly serve the themes at the heart of the story rather than being entertaining or natural. The cast rarely speaks like real people do, which ends up being more unsettling than the actual supernatural twists in the film.
There is some clear strength and polish beyond the writing – the cinematography does a great job at bringing out the inherent Gothic mystique of the Scottish moors, and the actors all bring strong, emotional performances. Reuten in particular does a great job as Marianne, carrying the story where the structure and dialogue falters.
However, these positive qualities fight valiantly against a script that does not help them at all. The evocative backdrop of Aberdeen is lost on a plot devoid of any mystery or suspense, and while the actors do as good a job as they can, the story neglects to make any characters interesting or likeable in its efforts to try and explain itself.
Repression is an ambitious film with a lot of interesting ideas and a strong core cast, but it lacks the style or substance to create the cerebral thriller that it desperately wants to be.
Repression is released digitally on demand on 28th September 2020.
Watch the trailer for Repression here: