March 4, 2022 Here Before (Movie Review)
Having previously written for the screen, Stacey Gregg (Raw series, The Frankenstein Chronicles series) turns her hand to directing in her feature debut Here Before.
Releasing in theaters on February 11th and VOD on February 15, 2022 via Saban Films, Here Before is set in Northern Ireland and stars Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion 2013, Bloodline series) as grief-stricken mother Laura who lost her daughter several years previously in a car accident. When a new family move in next door, Laura finds herself striking up an unlikely friendship with the little girl Megan (Niamh Dornan). When Megan begins to tell Laura things that she couldn’t possibly know from Laura’s past, Laura becomes convinced that something supernatural is occurring and soon her determination to find out who Megan really is threatens to tear both families apart.
Bereavement of any kind can be soul shattering and the death of a child does not even bear thinking about, so straight away Here Before is an emotionally resonant film. No matter Laura’s actions, the audience is able to deeply sympathize with her and whilst we may not always agree with everything she does, we do on some level understand it. This is also helped by Riseborough’s performance, she is a tour de force in this and in every moment you truly believe in her character. The supporting cast, including Martin McCann (The Survivalist 2015, Calibre 2018), Lewis McAskie (Belfast 2021), Jonjo O’Neil (The Fall series, Pennyworth series), Eileen O’Higgins (Brooklyn 2015, Dead Still mini series) and Niamh Dornan, also offer great performances which are grounded in realism – the families feel like the real life families you would encounter living next door to you.
It a really interesting film in that it could be categorized in several ways. Is it a Domestic Thriller? A Psychological Drama? Or is it a Supernatural Horror? The ambiguous nature of the film is what drives it forward – the audience doesn’t know what is going on and in which way the film is going, and this makes Here Before an intense and gripping watch. Above all, Here Before is undoubtedly an exploration of grief. Grief, both spoken and unspoken takes up a phenomenal amount of space in a family and how that grief is dealt with can either bond a family together or fracture them completely. Here Before is at its best when that grief is laid bare, and its repercussions reverberate through both families. Gregg herself stated that she wanted to mediate on grief and that personal interest is evident throughout the film.
Overall, the film builds steadily in tension and climaxes in a finale that may not end up where audiences expect it to. In that way the ending is likely to be slightly divisive and some audiences will love the conclusion whilst others may feel short changed. Gregg has crafted an understated and thoughtful film for her debut, and it will be really interesting to see what she does next. That is why Cryptic Rock Here Before 3.5 out of 5 stars.