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“Behind You” Never Generates Legitimate Scares

Especially in times like this, a good fright flick can often cure what ails you. A bad one, however, can be a trying thing to sit through. Unfortunately, for a multitude of reasons, the new film Behind You is a bad one. Derivative, lacking in scares, monotonous, and just overall disappointing, it’s a real chore. Despite having some decent performances from the younger actors in the cast, almost nothing lands here. Hitting Digital this weekend, horror fans will be presented with a less than appetizing option. Unless you’re absolutely starved for a genre entry, you can do way better than this.

The movie is a horror effort, playing upon the genre’s obsession with the danger that mirrors can hold. After the death of their mother, teenager Olivia (Addy Miller) and her younger sister Claire (Elizabeth Birkner) are being sent to live with their estranged Aunt. Family friend Camilla (Aimee-Lynn Chadwick) can’t take care of them, so they’re being ushered off to the home of their odd Aunt Beth (Jan Bronberg). Beth has a ton of rules, basically prohibiting fun, and keeps all of the mirrors in her home covered. If not for Beth’s neighbor Charles (Philip Brodie), things would be completely bleak. Still, there’s something off about the house, with a sense of foreboding. Of course, the basement is locked too, where they’re prohibited from exploring. In short order, Claire goes down there anyway, meeting a spirit in a mirror that claims to be her mother. Seduced by the allure of seeing her again, she unwittingly unleashes a demon. Garden variety horror ensues. Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon share the writing and directing duties. Christian Davis handles the music, while cinematography is by Benjamin Allred. Supporting players include Skyler M. Day, Sterling Evans, Caroline Labrum, and James C. Morris.

It’s a shame that so little here works. The young actresses are a lone bright spot, but they can only do so much. They truly do save things from being an utter slog, but it’s merely the difference between a bad movie and an awful one. Elizabeth Birkner and Addy Miller are best in show, but the material given to them is so bland, they almost shine in spite of it all. Had the surrounding flick been better, they would have been even more impressive, and in particular, Birkner, who does have to do some fairly tough things for a young actress.

Behind You is the sort of film that hints at where it could have been better, but largely just sort of exists, in the most mediocre of ways possible. Filmmakers Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon definitely had a vision, but it’s never one that we’re really allowed to see executed with any clarity. Mecham and Whedon (yes, the brother of Joss Whedon) should definitely get another crack at telling a story, but this just was never the right vehicle. Between the lack of a budget, limited scope, and blasé execution, they have a real misfire on their hands. However, the occasionally interesting visual, as well as Birkner and Miller’s turns, suggest that they still could have a solid future ahead of them.

Tomorrow, audiences who are absolutely desperate for some scares can give a shot to Behind You, though terror won’t be on the menu. More likely, it’ll just be boredom, and perhaps some puzzlement. It’s just not the kind of movie that brings you in. Instead, it’s a film that keeps you at arm’s length, in all manners. It’s a shame, too, as we could definitely use a quality bit of horror right now, if for no other reason than for some quick escapism. That’s just not what we have here. Alas. Behind You isn’t worth your time, but if you opt to give it a look, keep your expectations very much in check…

Behind You is on Digital tomorrow.

(Photos courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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