Don’t Look Back

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Don’t Look Back is a warning to us all.  Standing back and doing nothing except pulling out our phones and recording violent events might get us recognized on social media, but it will also haunt our dreams.  

At least, in this film’s opening moments, that messaging seems clear.  But, adding a wrinkle to its method, this low budget horror flick switches it up and gives us a violent home invasion moment which leaves one woman witnessing the tragic murder of her father.  She’s been smacked over the head and can only lay there and watch as her father is gunned down. 

Written and directed by Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination) and led by a commanding performance from Kourtney Bell as Caitlin Kramer, Don’t Look Back is the tale of one woman’s recovery after witnessing the brutal beating of her father.  Unfortunately, her path to confronting the trauma is marred by witnessing yet another act of brutality in a park.  Yeah, the luck of it all.

Stunned, Caitlin does nothing to stop it.  And neither does anyone else - who all stand around with their phones out recording the event - and, as they are easily criticized for doing nothing and being “bad Samaritans” by the media (represented here by an uncredited Rainn Wilson) - they soon find that their names are being read on live television by Lucas Helton (Will Stout) and, as if that wasn’t enough, there is a supernatural force stalking them all.

With her boyfriend Josh (Skyler Hart) by Caitlin’s side, she finds herself at vigils for, not just the original victim, but all those who follow in his footsteps.  Tragedy is stalking them all and, one by one, all the witnesses find themselves face to face with death.  But is it a killer in disguise? 

This modern horror film doesn’t really bring anything new to the Formica table in the kitchen of Horror, but - using bits from I Know What You Did Last Summer and Final Destination itself - Don’t Look Back manages to be somewhat interesting in its "witnesses as villains" themes, even if it feels really rough around the edges and marred by some awful acting at times. 

And the characters themselves are a mess.  I mean, Bell brings a strong understanding of her character to the screen, yet manages to do a lot of the same idiotic things with the character, echoing Scream Queens from the past instead of improving the role.  She’s not to blame, though.  Reddick’s script has a great premise and a solid theme, it just becomes average way too soon with jump scares and all sorts of spooky voices that cause things to go bump (but more like thud) in the night.  While I would love to say this film was a slam dunk when it came to its handling of scares, it just kind of lies there . . . waiting for its own spirit to come claim it and haul it away.

Co-starring Will Stout, Skyler Hart, Jeremy Holm, Jaqueline Fleming, Amanda Grace Benitez, Damon Lipari, Han Soto, Dean J. West and Stephen Twardokus, Don’t Look Back is now streaming on all major platforms courtesy of Gravitas Films. 

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