April 14, 2020 Behind You (Movie Review)
A haunting new take on the urban legend of Bloody Mary, Horror offering Behind You arrives to VOD on Friday, April 17th, 2020, thanks to Vertical Entertainment.
After the death of their mother, young sisters Olivia (Addy Miller: Dark Places 2015, The Walking Dead series) and Claire (Elizabeth Birkner: Night Sky short 2018, The Outpost series) find themselves on the doorstep of their estranged Aunt Beth (Jan Broberg: Everwood series, Maniac 2012). Holed up inside her family home, the eccentric, former violin virtuoso appears to only have contact with a childhood friend, Charles (Philip Brodie: Four Weddings and a Funeral series, The Outpost series), who serves as a caretaker, groundskeeper, chef, and confidante all wrapped into one.
It gets stranger. After the strict and stern-faced Beth gives the girls a tour of all the spots in the house that they must avoid—including her private study and the padlocked basement—she forewarns the girls that they may hear strange noises in the night. As if this wasn’t enough, Olivia immediately realizes that all the mirrors throughout the house are covered—and all too soon she will find out why.
Clocking in at 86 minutes, Behind You also features the acting talents of Aimee-Lynn Chadwick (A Cinderella Story 2004, Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis 2005), James C. Morris (Chick Magnets 2012, SAGA: Curse of the Shadow 2013), Skyler M. Day (The Cokeville Miracle 2015, The Christmas Project 2016), Caroline Labrum (Criminal Minds series, Granite Flats series), Sterling Evans (Tim Timmerman, Hope of America 2017, The Legacy 2017), Charan Prabhakar (The Last Man(s) on Earth 2012, The Outpost series), Sienna Carlson, and more.
Written and directed by Matthew Whedon and Andrew Mecham, Behind You marks the pair’s impressive directorial debut. Whedon, brother of famed Director Joss Whedon, is a talented writer who got his start in journalism and TV news commercials before transitioning to larger scale script-writing. He’s previously worked on the 2007 short film The Birthday, as well as the upcoming Sci-Fi offering The Nameless Days, which will mark his second feature-length film with Mecham. Equally talented, Mecham began in production, developing online content and producing videos, and has previously produced such titles as 2014’s Peculiar People and 2016’s A Trip to Unicorn Island documentary.
The talented duo’s Supernatural Horror offering Behind You provides the old Bloody Mary myth with a shiny new facade for 2020, delivering a film that feels like blockbuster Horror (2013’s The Conjuring, 2004/2020’s The Grudge) but with elements of newer, youthful offerings like 2017’s Pyewacket and influences from tried and true classics like 1973’s The Exorcist. What that all amounts to is a film that aims for eeriness that will appeal to a wider audience than just die-hard Horror lovers, and it does so with a fast-paced, clearly-defined story that leaves little room for mystery or debate. This fact is both the movie’s strongest point and it’s condemnation, leading to a film that is likely to introduce many younger audience members to Supernatural Horror while polarizing die-hards.
Simply put, if you’re a Horror fanatic who has seen it all, Behind You doesn’t have much to offer you that you haven’t seen 100 times before—but it displays its wares well. Instead, this is a flick that is apt to appeal to younger fans who are not yet jaded and desensitized, those who are into “Diet Horror,” or those who are easily spooked by every twist of the shadows—and they will love it! This is where the wider appeal comes in: much like many of the creepy films that you will see plastered all over big screens, Behind You goes more for an eeriness than an outright horrifying experience, and is, therefore, much more digestible than more extreme films of the genre.
But don’t write Behind You off. It’s a well-done film that moves at breakneck speed to deliver a story that utilizes demonic possession and family secrets to set a tone. Forgoing cliche jump-scares, it’s never entirely obvious with its frightful moments and yet it’s certainly not a sophisticated spin on the genre packed full of social commentary (ala 2017’s Get Out). Behind You simply is what it is: Supernatural Lite meant to appeal to anyone who’s ever looked into a mirror and recited a terrifying mantra, or anyone who has ever wished that their little sister would stop going Linda Blair.
Speaking of everyone’s favorite possessed child, the cast all deliver in their roles, with the most impressive fact being that the bulk of Behind You’s power is thanks to two young women: Miller and Birkner. As elder sister Olivia, Miller is able to communicate the naturally questioning, sometimes distrustful nature of teens and yet she still beautifully displays the ability of an older sister to put their younger sibling ahead of herself. In this, Miller crafts a flawless Olivia: a girl who has lost her beloved mother, been tossed onto the doorstep of an estranged aunt, but through it all is still trying to smile for her little sister’s sake.
Birkner’s Claire, in turn, gets to tackle the crazy. She consorts with her stuffed bunny, breaks and enters into places where she doesn’t belong, and ultimately gets to levitate. Certainly it can’t be easy for such a young woman to want to put herself into such a creepy position, but Birkner does so with grace. She’s never over-the-top or laughable, but rather a supernatural ballerina who dances through the film with an ease to her understated yet bizarre antics. When she communicates with the bunny? It’s chilling.
It’d be remiss not to add that there’s also a subtle homage to Lewis Carroll’s 1871 novel Alice Through the Looking Glass dusted throughout Behind You, one that elevates the film to something that is an elegant portrayal of the supernatural. Again, Behind You isn’t going to shock many of its viewers, but it certainly establishes its cast and crew—particularly Directors Mecham and Whedon, as well as actresses Miller and Birkner—as names to watch for. A sign of amazing things to come, Cryptic Rock gives Behind You 4 of 5 stars.