What is it about?
Maria is an alienated high school student whose life gets turned upside down when she switches places with her sinister mirror image.
When I was a child, there was a weekly kids programme on called Dramarama, an anthology show that had tales of Science Fiction and Supernatural themes, some quite dull but others quite fantastic. There was one episode that has long stuck in my mind of a young boy who realised his Mirror Image was alive and well and wanted to take over his life. It was one of the most spookiest episodes I had ever seen at such a young age and when I look back at that era, I chuckle at just how dark and nasty the TV for kids was way back then and no wonder many of us have grown up to love the horror genre.
Look Away takes that premise and makes it into a fully fledged psychological horror tale that will delight those looking for something different within the genre.
Carried by a very impressive performance by India Eisley, the daughter of Psycho IV’s Olivia Hussey, Look Away should be the feature film that rockets her to stardom, honestly, she rules every scene she is in and gives the much needed sympathy to her character Maria, a shy young girl who is trying to find her way into Adulthood, but her shyness leaves her without many friends and to a frosty relationship with her Dad (Jason Issacs).
One night while self pleasuring herself next to the mirror, her reflection becomes an entity of its own and its not long before Maria is talking to her other self named Airam. Is it all in Maria’s head? Or is there something Supernatural going on? Its a slow burn that may put off some viewers and for many will be left with dissatisfaction towards the climax, but for all its faults, Look Away is an oddity that had me watching.
With Airam convincing Maria to swap places, to do the things she can’t, the film goes from a teen dark drama to psycho slash and stalk, but writer-director Assaf Bernstein has no time for cheap scares and instead focuses on tension building, beautifully summed up by a great Ice Skating sequence that shows you can pull of an ultimate murder without the need of gore or a knife.
There are echoes of Carrie and oddly Ginger Snaps when watching, The film in some ways more of a coming of age horror and I can’t help but again bring up Eisley whose performance must be her calling card for bigger things. The way she moves from a troubled teen to a confident alter ego is compelling and a must watch alone, but also full credit must go to Bernstein who somehow adds layers of horror in places we may not expect.
One scene of Maria going to the cinema with her Dad and a sex scene comes on the screen is one of the most disturbing moments I’ve seen this year and what makes it more uncomfortable is that Issac himself plays such an awful unlikable father. Cold, calculating and nothing but a bully, his relationship with his daughter hints at something very dark, which is the film’s heartbeat and leads to a build up that takes the viewer onto a path they may not like.
The much underused Mira Sorvino is also great as the mother/wife who is living a life that from the outside seems perfect but in reality, broken beyond repair, a woman who can’t look out for her own daughter because she is drowning in misery herself.
Make no mistake, Look Away is not for everyone. Its so far removed from what gets released to the mainstream that I can understand why its sort of slipped under the radar, but for those looking for something different, with a cast giving their all, you may be pleasantly surprised.
A sombre affair, but at times a compelling one.