Review by Dan Skip Allen
Films about traumatic events can vary from deaths in car crashes or illnesses or other reasons. How these films differ is how the people within said film deals with the traumatic event. In the case of Here Before, it's a child that has passed on, but it's not depicted in the film why or how this has happened. All it depicts is how the mother of the child deals with this loss.
Laura (Andrea Riseborough, Possession) is a mother who lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and son. She has also lost a child named Josie. When a family moves in next door to her, she sees the little neighbor girl Megan (Niamh Dornan) has an uncanny resemblance to her lost daughter. She starts to befriend the little girl and this, in turn, starts to worry the mother of the young girl Marie (Eileen O'Higgins). She doesn't know if she is seeing things or if this little girl next door is real.
Andrea Riseborough is an established actress with quite a few credits to her name. She's done various kinds of films in her career from sports biopics like Battle of the Sexes to crazy wild horror movies such as Mandy. She gives a very solid performance in this film. The trauma she deals with as a character is on par with the best performance of her career in Possession. She had a hard time dealing with this entire situation. It's not easy for her family or the family next door either. Nobody can figure out what is going on.
The writer/director of the film, Stacey Gregg, creates an atmosphere of disorientation following a concerned woman who doesn't know which way is up. This story has so many implications on the hereafter as well as childhood as a whole. What this woman is putting her family through isn't very nice and not fair at all. Not having dealt with the death of a child before, I can't put myself in her shoes, but I can understand it. The filmmaker makes that happen with the script and acting performance she gets from Riseborough.
Here Before deals with sensitive subject matter. How the writer/director gets these subjects to be depicted on screen is quite a feat. She creates drama from ominous music and quick editing. These tools lend themselves to the story perfectly. Riseborough and the other actors in the cast sell every moment of dread and confusion that is going on in the film. This is a disturbing look at trauma and loss.
Here Before is now in theaters and hits VOD on February 15.