Look Away, 2019.
Directed by Assaf Bernstein
Starring India Eisley, Jason Isaacs, Mira Sorvino, Penelope Mitchell, Harrison Gilbertson, John C. MacDonald, Kristen Harris, Kiera Johnson, Michal Bernstein, Ernie Pitts, Adam Hurtig, and Connor Peterson.
LOOK AWAY is a psychological thriller that tells the story of Maria, an alienated high-school student whose life is turned upside down when she switches places with her sinister mirror image.
Fun fact: this horror contains zero jumpscares. A rarity in modern horror cinema.
What can one say about a film that is lower-end mediocre-poor? About a film that contains great ideas, is executed competently, but is missing that intrigue? A screenplay packed with concepts delivered all with potential but no payoff? A cast that deliver fine performances, despite the daft dialogue that leans into the absurd?
Look Away’s visuals showcase a filmmaker with experience and is trying his screenwriting and directorial hand on a different genre. The early scenes contrast the colour red, signifying themes of repressed desire from our timid, reserved protagonist Maria (India Eisley), with the muted, colour grey that permeates her home life, her school etc. The film starts promisingly until her Mum (Mira Sorvino) and Dad (Jason Isaacs) start engaging with their daughter, and the daft dialogue comes to the fore. Such nuance is lacking, that it makes them sound unintentionally funny. Their pushy nature to see their daughter attend the winter prom is unnatural.
Narrative issues then come into play when the film shows Maria’s reflection come to life so early in the narrative. The trailer and the synopsis tell us that the reflection comes to life, and shifts her plains from the reflected realm into the real, and brings forth all of Maria’s desires, so when this realisation that the reflection is sentient and called Airam (I see what you did there), the film doesn’t have anywhere to go. The shift occurs at the 45-minute mark, making the slow pacing of the first half a real slog to get through.
Again, this a real shame here as the ideas presented in the background are interesting. The father, who is a cosmetic surgeon, is perversely obsessed with aesthetics beauty, the stay-at-home depressed mother is repressing her own desires, onset by a haunted past, and Maria’s best friend Lily (Penelope Mitchell) is a shallow quasi-narcissist with her own arc. Themes are presented with potential but never explored, making this an odd horror film to critique.
Look Away is too dull to call it exciting, is too smart to call it dumb, is too competently shot to appease cult film fans, and has dialogue that is too trite to call it intelligent. An odd, dull, unexciting horror that will neither appease cult film fans, nor regular horror cinema-goers.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★