Updated: Dec 13, 2022
COGNITIVE [Available December 13, 12:00 AM - December 15, 11:59 PM, 2022] Stream online on Eventive during the 19th Another Hole in the Head film festival 2022.
When a young couple abducts Alisha, she is forced to consider the possibility that she may not be who she thinks she is. A Hitchcockian-style thriller presented in reverse chronology that keeps the audience guessing until the final frame.
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Evan Richards
Avoid spoilers (there are none in this review) and get ready for a tense experience with this mystery-filled, horror-adjacent reverse chronology psychological puzzler.
Writer/director/editor/producer Evan Richards’ mystery/psychological thriller Cognitive is the kind of film that I would love to write a long review about just to sing its many praises, but it is also exactly the kind of film that deserves to have viewers go in as cold as possible so as not to have any of its thrills and surprises spoiled for them. I’m opting for the latter approach here.
Told in reverse chronological order, the film opens to find a young woman (Rachel Fliescher) in big trouble, as she has been kidnapped by a couple similar in age (Nina Brissey and Adam Courtin) and there’s a major fuss just outside the place from which she makes an escape.
Richards then takes the story and characters backwards on an increasingly mesmerizing path, with the jolt of the final scene landing so well that I immediately wanted to watch the opening sequence again, and then the entire film, having finally gained access to all of the information, and finding the film more than entertaining and well made enough to do so.
The four leads, which include Ratidzo Mambo as the best friend of Fliescher’s character, all give dynamic performances, and they have plenty of meaty material with which to work thanks to Richards’ smart screenplay. Ryan Jackson-Healy’s cinematography puts viewers up close and in the middle of action at suspenseful times, with a wonderful final sequence filmed perfectly.
Without wanting to give any more away, I will add that Cognitive is horror adjacent and serves up just enough ambiguity to leave viewers pondering about certain elements. Lucky you, you don’t need to wait long to see this slick, gripping film as it plays as part of Another Hole in the Head’s online programming (see the festival link below).