“Behind You” – Movie Review

Mirrors have long held relevance in the realm of horror and all things scary. Some have seen them as portals to other worlds, while others see them as reflection of the soul itself.

Vampires can’t see themselves in them (allegedly due to mirrors once being made from silver), and ghosts like Bloody Mary seem to have knack for appearing in them, if you believe such things.

Who among you has actually tried to conjure a ghost in a mirror? Be honest!

Films like the aptly titled Mirrors, as well as the brilliant, but underrated Oculus have explored the horror associated with mirrors.

And in their footsteps follows Behind You, an independent supernatural thriller from writer/director team Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon, in their feature film debut.

(Spoiler Free)

Necessary Cliché?
Like so many horror films before it, Behind You sees two young girls Olivia (Addy Miller) and Claire (Elizabeth Birkner) having to move in with their Aunt Beth (Jan Broberg), following the death of their mother.

To the films’ credit, the sisters have a strong bond that does come into play later on.

It’s well known horror trope to have the story begin with children having to move to a new home, and while it admittedly does make for an easier inciting incident as far as plot goes, there’s another reason that so many horror stories rely on this.

Children don’t normally experience the paranormal terror often seen in these films, but moving to a new house is fairly common, and it’s a source of anxiety that many children, as well as adults who experienced this as children, can relate to.

Intentional Awkwardness?
Right away, Aunt Beth makes it abundantly clear that she didn’t want her nieces there. She has a dark history involving her other sister, which is why the girls, nor their mother have had any contact with her for decades.

There’s a cringe-worthy awkwardness present from the very start, and it’s not clear if this is the result of iffy dialogue and acting or a purposeful intention to make the audience feel uncomfortable. But we’ll give the film the benefit of the doubt and go with the latter.

Beth’s neighbor, and old friend Charles (Philip Brodie) at least provides some sense of warmth and comfort, by at least acting like a normal, friendly human being. But in the interactions between him and Beth, it’s quite clear that there’s much more beneath the surface.

Beth tells her nieces that certain rooms are off limits. Claire, being a young child, obviously disregards this, and ends up playing with a mirror and accidentally releasing a demon (as you do). What follows is a case of possession, supernatural oppression, and death!

Pro Tip: When you’re creepy aunt tells you not to go into the creepy room with the creepy mirror, heed her advice!

Genuine Creepiness
The filmmakers successfully create a good tone and atmosphere of suspense, by not showing too much of the “demon” and leaving the fear more in our imaginations.

It also helps that the entire film takes place in Beth’s house, thus leading to a sense of isolation, which we can relate to very strongly right now.

So many possession films get over the top with wind machines, loud noises, shattering windows, and CGI effects on the possessed person’s face.

However, this is one area in which Behind You’s limited budget comes in handy. When you can’t rely on a myriad of overt visual effects, you must elicit fear in a more subtle way. Which the film does…from time to time at least.

Anyone else get a little annoyed by every movie exorcism resulting in massive amounts of property damage?

The room with the mirror has a beautiful red glow that helps to set the tone, but it’s still a bit too dark to see what’s happening.

To be fair, horror films can use darkness to spread fear, but if we can’t see anything at all, it’s hard to know what we’re supposed to be frightened by.

We also have to address a really fascinating philosophical and ethical quandary the characters find themselves in, towards the end.

Without getting into spoilers, let’s just say that all is not what it seems, there is always more to the story, and sometimes people face very difficult choices they don’t want to make.

It’s actually kind of a shame that he film didn’t explore this idea even more. As it’s one that’s quite relevant in many horror films, especially possession ones, but Behind You was one of the only ones to come out and say it.

It’s no Oculus (which if you haven’t seen, you’re doing yourself a disservice), but it has interesting and creepy ideas, and shows great potential for this duo of first time directors.

Behind You is currently available via Video on Demand

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