Main cast: India Eisley (Maria Brennan), Jason Isaacs (Dan Brennan), Mira Sorvino (Amy Brennan), Penelope Mitchell (Lily), Harrison Gilbertson (Sean), Kristen Harris (Naomi), and John C MacDonald (Mark)
Director: Assaf Bernstein
Poor Maria. She’s a pretty girl, but I suppose in movies, she’s still freaky-looking enough that she is the target of bullies in school. When she’s not being heckled and taunted, she’s being ignored. Her only friend is Lily, but Lily is distracted by her boyfriend Sean, so in the end, Maria feels all alone. Her parents don’t really understand her either, as they often talk over her or tell her what she should be feeling or doing, instead of trying to understand how she really feels about things. And then she overhears her parents arguing about her – her father thinks she’s a screw-up, while her mother insists that if Lily had more time or friends, she’d be fine like every other girl her age.
Oh, and her father’s idea of a “movie date” with Maria involves films with explicit sex scenes that make Maria feel so awkward. No wonder the poor dear is so socially awkward.
Then one evening, while she is… uh, relaxing in front of a large bathroom mirror, her reflection turns to look at her and ooh! Turns out that her reflection is alive, somehow living at the other side of the mirror. This reflection, who calls herself Airam, is nice, she seems to understand Maria perfectly, and she even offers to trade places with Maria in order to “fix things” for Maria. Thing is, Airam is a mirror image of Maria in every way: while Maria is meek, she is a homicidal whackjob, so life becomes a bloody party once she’s let loose.
Look Away… well, I have to look up India Eisley’s birth date just to confirm that she’s not underage in this film, because she has some scenes of nudity here. She’s pretty, like I’ve said, but there is a bit of a Selena Gomez thing going on with her in that I fear that the cops will burst down my door while I’m watching this thing. She’s in her twenties, though, so yes, we can all look all we want, phew.
To call this one a thriller or a horror movie is misleading. Is it horror? Well, one can easily assume that Airam is just an extension of Maria’s shattered mind, and it’s all the same girl all along. On the other hand, the whole “Airam” is Maria’s dead twin sister came back as a ghost works too as an explanation, if one wants to look at things that way. However, this one doesn’t have the more conventional elements of a horror or thriller flick. Oh, there is some great atmospheric build-up without the use of cheap jump scares, but the movie is more akin, I feel, to a psychological coming of age or sexual awakening drama – only, this one has dead people and messed up daddy issues in the mix.
Ms Eisley is too gorgeous to be believable in a role of a school outcast that nobody likes, but still, she projects a credible tortured vibe to Maria, and watching the poor dear flail around can be heartbreaking, especially when bullies like Mark are outright physically abusive and cruel towards her. When she has to vamp it up as Airam, complete with the obligatory smoking is evil thing, she is especially easy on the eyes and feels more in her element. Airam is easily the best thing about this movie – there is a vicarious thrill in seeing her go on a vengeful rampage on all those people who made Maria’s life so miserable.
The only downside is Assaf Bernstein, who also wrote the script, dipping into arty-farty pretentiousness towards the end and refusing to give the movie any proper resolution. I’m okay with this, as to me it’s clear by then that Mr Bernstein is more concerned about making some kind of “Look at me, I’m deep!” statement with this movie. To his credit, this movie is still compelling to watch even it’s being at its most arty-farty, and there is something just magnetic about Ms Eisley’s ability to project both vulnerability and temptation like the embodiment of a Madonna/whore complex. Look Away is probably an average thriller or horror flick at best, but as a character study, it’s one fascinating flick.