With the hopes of a spooky story full of demons and mirror shards, Behind You relies too much on shortcuts rather than storytelling.
I love a good, classic spooky story. So many films are all about the gore and the jump scares that no one cares about tone or atmosphere anymore. Reading the synopsis of Behind You, it seemed like an old fashioned murderous demon story and I was down with that. What we got was a mix of atmospheric horror, great child actors, lots of wallpapered mirrors and an old lady that somehow knows everything.
Behind You was written and directed by Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon. It follows the story of two young sisters whose mother just died. They are sent to live with their isolated and strange Aunt Beth while they wait for their estranged father to get back into the country. Beth isn’t the nicest person and doesn’t want them in her house, but their mother’s friend is moving and they have nowhere else to go.
She has very strict rules like no one leaves their room after 10 p.m. until dawn and no one but no one goes into the basement or her study. Of course that means someone is going into both. When that someone gets extremely possessed, it is up to Beth, her old boyfriend and the other sister to expel the demon and be rid of it once and for all.
Yes, that summary is purposefully vague. Addy Miller and Elizabeth Birkner do a really great job as the two young sisters, Olivia and Claire, and Jan Broberg is sufficiently creepy as Aunt Beth. Visually, this movie looks really good.
It is heavy in orange and sepia tones that give it this almost vintage feel. The cinematography was on point and the effects were well-done. I really enjoyed the use of mirrors and that classic trope of seeing a scene in the mirror and turning around to nothing.
Even though things like that have been done so much, when it is executed well, it’s really effective. There is nothing wrong with this film visually or atmospherically but the story left a lot to be desired.
I think the thing that bothered me the most was Aunt Beth. They tried to pack so much into her backstory without taking the time to show her experience throughout the years.
All of a sudden, she tosses out an extremely old book that OF COURSE has everything inside it about this particular demon that she just now decides to get rid of. When she should have expelled it before she took in her two nieces.
I’m just not a fan of those stories where everything gets wrapped up super tight with no explanation as to why. If they had shown some of Beth’s travel and research throughout the years, it would have made sense as to why she was that knowledgeable and why she didn’t try to rid herself of the demon.
The game reaches a climax and all of a sudden Beth knows exactly what to do. That kind of deus ex machina drives me nuts.
Behind You isn’t a terrible movie and I don’t want you to think that based on this review. There are a lot of good points about it, especially visually.
However, the production had a lot of potential but the filmmakers relied too much on shortcuts to tell their supernatural story instead of taking their time and having the plot make sense. In the end, they relied on scare factors rather than good storytelling.
Click on this link to digitally pre-order or purchase Behind You.
What is your favorite possession film? Let us know in the comments!