It’s always a big disappointment when a movie does almost everything right, but then doesn’t stick the landing. Such is the case with “Here Before,” an eerie, well-executed psychological thriller from writer / director Stacey Gregg. The story never seems to find its footing, leading to a big set-up and an unsatisfying resolution.
Grieving mother Laura (Andrea Riseborough) has recently lost her daughter Josie in a tragic car accident. The family, including her husband and son, are coping as best they can. When new neighbors move in next door, Laura begins to notice haunting similarities in the couple’s little girl Megan (Niamh Dornan) and Josie. Forging an increasingly obsessive relationship with the new kid next door, it soon becomes evident that something’s not right — especially after Megan is adamant that she’s “been here before.”
Gregg is great at building up the mystery, and Riseborough is effective as a bereaved mother who (rightfully) begins to question her own sanity. The things Megan says to her are chilling, especially when she exhibits the exact traits of her deceased child. Reality and fiction are turned upside down, and everything about the situation is unsettling. There’s so much time spent constructing the story, only to blow the entire premise with a lame, head-scratching reveal that doesn’t pay off.
“Here Before” isn’t a bad movie, and there’s much to enjoy and appreciate here. It features strong performances and is confidently directed, and the majority of the film is compelling. The script isn’t bad either, but the story lacks a solid foundation. It would’ve worked far better with an ambiguous ending, which is never a good sign.
By: Louisa Moore