They say the eyes are the windows to the soul but a mirror reflects what is in the mind. When one looks at themselves in a mirror they may not be seeing an accurate image. One person can only see all the derogatory names they were called when they were younger. Another individual may see the most beautiful person they have ever seen. I have had a love/hate relationship with mirrors that has mostly been hate. I have arranged my classes where the participants can see themselves in the mirrors. It makes sense that people should see what they are doing in class. The added benefit is I do not have to see myself because I know the person in that mirror has a warped perception of themself. There was a summer during my college years where I was greeted in the mirror by someone who had the confidence of Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever. It did not last long before the image was replaced with a man, who used to carry 85 extra pounds on their body splattered with bruises. I know when I look into a mirror these days I rarely see any feel good attributes. There are days where the mirror tries to be kind and others where it is gloomy; however, I am grateful I have never seen anything sinister like I saw in the mirror in this horror film. Karen Gillan (We’ll Take Manhattan-TV movie, Not Another Happy Ending) played Kaylie Russell who wanted to prove what happened to her and her brother Tim, played by Brenton Thwaites (Home and Away, Charge Over You), had to be something supernatural. I feel I always have to preface my review of horror movies by saying I am not a big fan of them. If this film is any indication I may no longer need to state it. Without gratuitous bloodshed or gross mutilations, I found this movie to be tensely exciting. There was a continuous thread of dread throughout as the story reeled between the adult and childhood versions of the brother and sister. Katee Sackhoff (Riddick, Battlestar Galactica-TV) and Rory Cochrane (Argo, Dazed and Confused) were wonderful as the siblings’ parents Marie and Alan Russell. At one point I felt I was witnessing a psychotic episode, the next a hallucinatory one; all of it made for a mind bending experience where I was fidgeting in my seat with anticipation. I will tell you there were several scenes that made me squeamish and there was blood shown; but on the strength of the script, I know if I had seen myself in a mirror afterwards I would have seen a satisfied moviegoer.
There is something about someone being the underdog that immediately moves me to become a fan of theirs. Whether the person is in the minority or they display amazing fortitude to overcome incredible odds, I am comfortable supporting them. For example I will root for someone who is left-handed since I am and we are in the minority. I still remember when a former co-worker talking about their unborn child said they hope the baby would be right-handed. When I asked them why, they said they did not want the baby to be writing with the wrong hand. Do you see what I mean? In movies, the underdog propels the story forward as they quickly grab the viewer’s attention. The writers of this science fiction thriller did a good job of setting up the main character to be the underdog fairly early in the film. Due to a coup Riddick, played by Vin Diesel (The Fast and Furious franchise, Saving Private Ryan), was left for dead on a hostile planet. The only way to get off the planet was to activate an emergency beacon at an abandoned station. In doing so, Riddick would not only have cutthroat mercenaries descending upon him, but also someone who had a connection to his past. The beginning of this action film was crammed with frenzied action as Riddick was discovered by the creatures of the planet. Once that was over, the picture dramatically dropped into a lull. Knowing Vin was a man of few words, it was a surprise to have him as the narrator for portions of the film. Not until the bounty hunters arrived was there a pickup in the story. One group was led by Santana, played by Jordi Molla (Colombiana, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and the other was led by Boss Johns, played by Matt Nable (33 Postcards, Killer Elite). Both groups’ players were pretty much stereotypical; making it easy for me to figure out what would happen to several of them later in the movie. There were parts of the film that did not make any sense to me. Add in the uneven story and I was left bored during sections of the movie. To Vin’s credit, he was able to deliver several sarcastic lines along with some crazy, bloody scenes. For a sequel, this film did not offer enough for me to root for it. There were multiple scenes that had blood and violence.