A Spanish supernatural horror hyped as being so scary it caused heart attacks and for viewers to switch it off. I’ve had my fingers burned by similarly worded hype campaigns before, as I recall actually being cautious to see The Blair Witch Project back in the day and well, that turned out to be a pile of shite. However this also had Paco Plaza attached as director, one half of the duo that delivered the excellent [REC] and its equally impressive sequel.
Veronica, a school girl who pretty much runs the house, looking after her younger siblings whilst their single mother works all hours, holds a seance involving a Ouija board along with two friends in a bid to contact her dead father. Predictably things don’t go to plan and soon theirs some sort of demonic entity out to claim the souls of her brother and sisters. So Veronica has to find out how to banish the demon and save the day.
Paco Plaza’s direction is moody and stylish with some clever camera work and decent gradual build up of dread. Set-pieces such as hands coming out of a bed or some ravenous kids are well done but an over-familiarity with the subject matter quickly creeps in and makes this pale in comparison to similar fair like Insidious or The Conjuring. It’s just not all that scary. The principle cast do their job but are all more serviceable than particularly memorable. Not essential then, but if you’ve exhausted most mainstream horror offerings, then there’s still entertainment to be had with this.
Some movies it’s good to go into totally blind. No viewing of trailers, no reading of reviews. Although I had heard this was meant to be pretty good as far as the glut of supernatural horrors of late, ala Insidious and The Conjuring. This tells the tale of a young twenty something guy (James Van Der Beek look-a-like Brenton Thwaites) freshly released from a psychiatric hospital following an incident in his childhood. Reunited with his sister, she reminds him of a promise they made when they were younger, and following an auction, sets up a night of observing what happens in the company of an antique mirror, that may or may not hold within a dormant, malevolent entity.
The movie skilfully and cleverly jumps back and forth from the present and to that fateful night when the siblings were just children, and the events that lead up to the guy’s incarceration. This is spooky, has some great ideas and two very strong performances, especially from the gorgeous Karen Gillan (yes, former Doctor Who assistant) as the guy’s elder sister. It plays on your perceptions, twists your head into wondering if what you see is happening or just in the character’s heads, and throughout various red herrings and freaky encounters really got me questioning what was going on. It’s certainly a horror that keeps you on your toes, and some hallucinations, including a memorable light bulb / apple mix up as well as some Ring-like creepy woman moments all made for a genuinely unsettling experience.
It doesn’t get as nasty or as disturbing as some horrors can be (probably a good thing), and could be seen as more an exploration of the adverse affects of a childhood trauma and the transition into adulthood. Yet the always scary concept of a possessed mirror and along with the time jumps … meant this horror fanboy came away rather impressed.
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