This may be a rather familiar concept – a lone woman in a secluded house is tormented by a masked killer – however the spin being she happens to be deaf and mute. So that adds a little bit of a twist to what is otherwise fairly formulaic. However in the hands of relatively unknown Mike Flanagan who made the underrated Oculus this at least has a few interesting surprises and nice touches to keep this viewer entertained.
At a lean 82 minutes it wastes little time in getting going, setting up its premise and ramping up the tension and gets all sorts of creepy as we occasionally get things from the woman’s view point; complete with the sound muffled for added atmosphere. However with a one-note killer that is basically nothing more than a walking cliché and a clichéd setting that for some reason a deaf and mute woman seems perfectly at ease leaving doors unlocked and well, having a cat for company than say, a dog … what is initially a fun ride quickly begins to show some cracks.
Thankfully, Kate Siegel delivers a decent portrayal of a woman who isn’t your stereotypical helpless victim and proves believably resourceful. Yet what support cast there is, is serviceable rather than all that memorable; a neighbour, the neighbour’s husband and what appears to be an ex-boyfriend, all with little characterisation. I’d have liked a bit more going on and an actual connection between the woman and the killer/tormenter, but we get nothing – is that supposed to be scarier? Yet Flanagan handles the thrills with some degree of skill and plays with the concept enough to still deliver a fast, violent and effective movie. It may not redefine a tired genre but still does it’s job rather well.
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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