#SXSW: “HERE BEFORE”
Review by Amanda Gilmore
Writer-Director Stacey Gregg is making her Feature debut with this unsettling Psychological Thriller. It follows Laura (Andrea Riseborough) who, along with her husband and son, is grieving the loss of her young daughter, Josie. When a new family moves in next door, Laura becomes close with their daughter, Megan (Niamh Dornan), who would’ve been the same age as Josie. When Megan begins talking about intimate details involving Josie and the night she died, Laura begins to believe that Megan is the reincarnation of her daughter.
Here Before is a suspenseful journey that keeps its audience on the edge of their seats. The suspense is amplified through disquieting sound and music by Adam Janota Bzowski. This sound, along with Gregg’s strong direction, creates an ominous atmosphere that becomes increasingly unsettling with each scene. Gregg’s layered Script uses Laura’s and her family’s grief to create ample amounts of mystery surrounding what is and isn’t real. This is aided by the precision editing from Brian Philip Davis. Impressively, the mystery is kept until the climax when the shocking truth is finally revealed.
At the core of Here Before is the ever-talented Riseborough, who delivers an outstanding performance and an impeccable Northern Irish accent. She roots Laura in her grief which creates audiences to relate and understand her. In doing so, audiences continue to be on Laura’s side even when her actions become questionable. Additionally, the very young Dornan turns in a powerful performance that shows talent beyond her years. She creates an equal balance of eeriness and childhood-charm in Megan which aides in the mystery of the narrative.
Here Before screens at SXSW Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 1 PM ET.