Addy Miller as Olivia
Elizabeth Birkner as Claire
Jan Broberg as Beth
Phillip Brodie as Charles
Aimee-Lynn Chadwick as Camilla
Written and directed by Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon
Behind You Review:
Sometimes the indie horror genre can be a phenomenal place for auteurs and creative geniuses to make their mark and launch into the mainstream, with Mike Flanagan going from the promising Absentia to Netflix’s groundbreaking series The Haunting of Hill House, David F. Sandberg having broken out from his acclaimed YouTube short-turned-feature Lights Out and going all the way to the DC Extended Universe’s second-best received installment Shazam! The genre can see some artists struggle with their first effort, however, and Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon’s Behind You is an example of a stumbler.
Co-written and co-directed by the duo, the story centers on Olivia and Claire, two young sisters who have lost their mother and are sent to the home of their estranged aunt for safe keeping until their father can fetch them. But their keeping is far from safe as not only is their aunt a sinister and strange caretaker, but all the mirrors in her large, uninviting house have either been covered over or stored in the locked basement. When the younger Claire is lured to the basement, she finds a message scrawled in the dust on one of the mirrors that she believes to be from her dead mother. “I am in a dark place. I need to get out. Will you help me?” In attempting to do so, however, Claire releases an entity from the mirror that proves to be anything but motherly and now Olivia must save her from the malicious entity seeking to possess her and the Aunt hell bent on the demon’s destruction.
The plot for the film feels more akin to a family-friendly adventure than it does a horror film, with the kids being warned by their mean old aunt they’ve never met not to do something in the house that results in ensuing chaos, all because their aunt went through a mysterious traumatic event as a kid. It doesn’t feel like an original, or even relatively captivating, way to introduce the principal characters or the mystery driving the story but rather a tired retread of the “kids left to their own devices” outline.
Its central mystery regarding the mirrors may not be as interestingly thought-out as intended, nor ambiguous enough, but the exploration of the lore behind the entity terrorizing the family does feel generally well-conceived. By looking at oft-unexplored folklore, the film takes what could feel like an extended Supernatural opening and spins it off into intriguing enough territory to draw in general audiences curious about the threat and the ways to defeat it.
The handling of the creature and its appearance is one element that Mecham and Whedon do nail, as they understand the principal of “less is more,” taking a page out of the Jaws and Lights Out book and showing audiences very little of the creature, especially little to no closeups, helping to amp up the tension and curiosity of the viewer. The duo also do an intriguing enough job in directing scenes in which the entity is terrorizing those on screen, creating believable scares as broken glass and various items float around the room with the creature only being seen in the reflections rather than on screen. While all of its scenes may not be nightmare fodder, there’s a generally dark and chilling atmosphere pervading the entire affair that proves compelling enough to withstand the dull characters and their dialogue.
Overall, Behind You is not the most original or captivating horror effort, with its characters feeling underwhelming and its story proving super predictable, but with enough of a decent atmosphere and chilling visuals, it’s sure to thrill some genre enthusiasts.