Wednesday, 30 September 2015


I'm proud of the fact that I'm a British guy, so I love to see what fellow Brits get up to with our beloved genre. In fact, my reviews for the likes of Curse of the Witching Tree and The Cutting Room are among the most popular I've ever posted here at the House, so I know there are plenty of people out there who share my affection for horror flicks from the UK.
Which leads me to one of my most anticipated films from the recent Film4 FrightFest — Isabel Coixet's Another Me, based on Cathy MacPhail's novel of the same name.
With a host of top British acting talent in the cast, including Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner, I thought this looked like a film that would be tough to replicate. But would I have another think coming?
Read on…


Dir: Isabel Coixet
Starring: Sophie Turner, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Claire Forlani, Rhys Ifans, Gregg Sulkin, Charlotte Vega, Geraldine Chaplin, Leonor Watling, Ivana Baquero

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here but continue at your own risk. 

Fay (Turner) was a fun-loving teen, right up until her father Don (Ifans) was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Devastated as she watches his condition deteriorate, her relationship with her mother Ann (Forlani) has suffered.
Struggling to cope, nevertheless Fay continues to attend school and auditions for the role of Lady MacBeth under the encouraging tutelage of drama teacher Don (Meyers). Things seem to be looking up a little when her crush Drew (Sulkin) is cast opposite her and bitchy rival Monica (Vega) is made her understudy.
However, a dark sequence of events unfolds as Fay comes to realise that her mother is conducting an extramarital affair. In emotional turmoil, Fay finds herself under even more pressure when first her elderly neighbour Mrs Brennan (Chaplin), then her school friends and teachers claim to have seen her at times and locations where she wasn't present.
As Fay starts to see signs of a shadowy stalker she begins to unravel. What is going on? Who is this mysterious doppelgänger — and what does she want?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Needless to say with a cast of this caliber, the acting in Another Me is absolutely top notch. A couple of the youngsters aside, everybody nails their role. Much is asked of Turner and, odd plummy accent in a couple of scenes aside, she is excellent. 
At times it actually becomes uncomfortable to watch her because it feels as if you really are witnessing a young woman experiencing a genuine mental breakdown. She was actually cast in this role before landing the part of GoT's Sansa Stark but she shows no inexperience here.
Elsewhere Ifans gives a tremendously powerful performance of a man staring his own mortality in the face. It's very restrained by his standards and all the more captivating for it.
Meyers and Forlani also impress with their roles, although perhaps the pair could have done with a little more screentime.
Young Vega provides some strong support work as Fay's nemesis, wisely playing it down so as not to drift into Mean Girls territory.
That the actors are given characters so well-rounded and fleshed-out is all the better, a pleasant bonus when dealing with many book adaptations. 
The very talented Coixet has built up a reputation for dense, character-driven, beautiful films with the likes of Elegy, Paris, Je T'aime and My Life Without Me. Another Me shares plenty with the Spanish-born director's previous works, focusing on character interaction, drama and romance. It's a very restrained and controlled take on terror, with a few gentle jolts along the way as it slowly builds towards a truly horrifying finale. There's very little blood, no preposterous bodycount and instead relies on good-old fashioned spooky concepts and the natural feeling reactions of the stellar cast. Coixet deserves credit for trying to bring her higher-brow artistic storytelling sensibilities to a genre which is all too often prepared to insult the intelligence of its fans.
These sensibilities are carried over into the gloriously gritty but still starkly beautiful cinematography by Jean-Claude Larrieau. Each shot is wonderfully framed by Croixet and looks entrancing. The colour palette is muted with emphasis drawn to certain motifs, including Turner's striking red hair. The grimy greys accurately reflect the urban environment in which the story takes place, as well as echoing Fay's miserable, depressed emotional state. It really is quite tremendous.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There's no polite way to say this, so I'll just come out with it — Another Me is pretty boring. It focuses so much on delivering an intelligent, character-driven take on horror that it utterly forgets to include the scares. It's a crying shame because the aesthetics are perfect to instil an atmosphere of dread, it's just that nothing particularly frightening happens in this atmosphere.
This could perhaps be forgiven if the film was especially witty or clever — unfortunately the plot is not anywhere near as intelligent as it seems to think it is. ********SPOILERS******** The unborn twin thing has been seen in plenty of other genre films and Another Me does nothing new with the idea either. ********SPOILERS END******** 
What's more it unfolds at a snail's pace, layering on foreshadowing so thickly that it gives viewers a good 10 minutes notice to work out what's coming next.
Even the finale, a legitimately terrible concept, is spoiled by the fact that we're given so much time to suss out what the big reveal will be, effectively robbing it of so much of its potential impact.
Also, while I've praised the cast assembled for the film, another cardinal sin committed by Another Me is in focusing more on the young, weaker cast members than the impressive experienced heads such as Forlani, Meyer and Chaplin. Ifans is given more to do than most of the other 'grown-up' cast members but even his appearances feel sporadic. I know it's set in a school but it just feels like a waste of some considerable talent.

THE VERDICT: I really wanted to like Another Me. The last thing I wanted was to sound like an ADD-addled teen bemoaning a slow pace, a lack of blood and guts and 'lik wheres all the jumps?!?!? lol'. I really appreciate the look of the look of the film and Coixet's brave and admirable decision to focus on character, but unfortunately it moves like molasses and tells a story that is ultimately quite clichéd. 
Perhaps if it had instead been marketed as a thriller rather than an out and out horror title this would have gone down a little better?
As a drama with some spooky elements, it delivers (albeit slowly). As a horror movie, I'm afraid it comes up short. Bear this in mind should you decide to give it a go.
Read my previous Film4 Frightfest special reviews for Suspension hereThe Nightmare hereWind Walkers hereStung hereNight of the Slasher hereInvaders hereCrow Hand!!! hereWe Are Still Here hereDemonic hereThe Lazarus Effect here and Turbo Kid here.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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