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Horror movies are tricky to pull off. Everything, it seems, has been done before. And yet, the broad appeal of a spooky tale and the minimal budget required to pull a project together mean the genre remains one of the most popular in Hollywood.

With Behind You, first-time writer-directors Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon spin a supernatural yarn designed to trigger sleepless nights. The film follows two sisters (Addy Miller and Elizabeth Birkner) who move in with their aunt (Jan Broberg) following the death of their mother.

Naturally, malevolent forces arise, and the two sisters must make it out of the house alive.

Jan Broberg in 'Behind You'
Jan Broberg in ‘Behind You’ | Vertical Entertainment

The writer-directors of ‘Behind You’ deliver a solid debut

In many respects, Behind You has all the trappings of a major horror blockbuster. The film features strong performances across the board, with Broberg and Philip Brodie as the main standouts. As is the case with a lot of horror movies, Behind You layers in a series of mysteries, surprises, and twists which — for the most part — are extremely effective.

In addition, it’s hard to believe the movie marks Mecham and Whedon’s first time at the helm of a feature. Behind You feels like it has a confident, guiding hand behind it. And the aesthetics and atmosphere of its story benefit greatly from the skillful way Mecham and Whedon present it to the audience.

With rare exception, Behind You doesn’t even resort to graphic violence. Rather, the scares come from figures moving in shadows, the squelches and creaks of its sound design, and the aforementioned performances. Through and through, Behind You is a visually appealing, well-crafted production.

The mythology feels undercooked and derivative

Where it falters is the story itself. The premise of Behind You feels instantly familiar. And as a result, some of the dramatic reveals are robbed of their suspense. Moreover, the central creature lacks the imagination it should have. Instead, it feels like a distant cousin of the baddies from The Grudge and The Ring.

The mythology behind the creature also feels undeveloped. While the film kicks off with a startling prologue, the ultimate reveal lacks the punch Behind You wants it to have. How our heroes get embroiled in the supernatural drama and the rules behind the creature’s actions are entertaining nonetheless.

But for a film that gets so many of the technical aspects right, it’s unfortunate Behind You doesn’t have a more creative and original story to tell. Mecham, Whedon, and their cast still do a capable job with the film, despite noticeably falling short in some areas.

‘Behind You’ will be available on April 17, 2020

For horror aficionados stuck at home during this period of self-quarantine, Behind You could be a spooky good time. This is especially true, considering the main characters are similarly confined to their home for much of the runtime. Even the movie’s flaws are easy to overlook in such a resonant context.

Behind You will hit on-demand platforms on April 17, 2020. So horror fans interested in seeing a new release with some solid scares, excellent production values, and talented cast, take note. Most importantly, the film sets up Mecham and Whedon as promising filmmakers on the rise. If this is their first film, then they likely have a long career ahead of them.