For his second feature-length outing director Sean Ellis has turned his hand to horror – or more specifically psycho-thriller – but while it is big on atmosphere and features crafty camerawork it is running on empty when it comes to plot.

Gina (Lena Headey) is a radiologist, with the sort of life you read about in glossy magazines. By day she studies X-rays and by night she dines with her perfect extended family - who, rather unfortunately, engage in the type of dialogue about an art show (darling!) that has you hoping for their swift and painful demise.

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Death is on the menu, but not on this particular evening, although the peace is shattered along with a large mirror in the adjoining room.

The next day, things get even spookier when Gina spots her doppelganger driving past. Deciding to follow herself in a bid to find out what is going on she gets such a scare from what transpires that she ends up in a car wreck.

While recuperating at the house of boyfriend Stefan (Melvil Poupaud) she begins to suffer terrifying nightmares and becomes increasingly paranoid that Stefan's agenda is less than altruistic.

Eschewing, for the most part, the sort of blood and guts that have been splattered liberally across our screens of late thanks to the rise and rise of torture porn, Ellis's film owes much - perhaps too much - to older films, such as the many incarnations of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. While using mirrors as a symbol of dread is not particularly new, the device is put to very good effect here, with Ellis's creepy camerawork sending nerves jangling every time he edges up to one. But there is simply not enough depth of character development or storyline to satisfactorily sustain the film.

Headey does her best with Gina but she's fighting against the tide since the character is, like the mirrors this movie makes so much of, little more than surface and shine. While the fact there is no indication of what has brought Gina's 'enemies' into being or why they want what they do is not fatal, it, too, is a handicap.

Pacing is also an issue. The film takes too long to get going to hold enough appeal for late-night horror crowds looking for a quick fix after a few pints, while viewers with a lower alcohol content will find themselves tugging at the loose ends of the plot. Perhaps most disappointingly, though, is that fact that the concepts of body-snatching and doppelgangers have been so worked and reworked over the years that the ending will come as little surprise for those familiar with this sort of horror thriller.

There is no denying that, behind the camera, Ellis is a talent to watch and be nurtured - his films full of slick ideas and a strong sense of visual storytelling. At a desk, however, he lacks the scriptwriting spark to match his shooting ability. Let's hope he hands over the writing reins to someone else on his next project, so that we can concentrate on admiring his camerawork.

Reviewed on: 19 Apr 2008
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A woman's life begins to spiral out of control after she sees her doppelganger. Read our with Sean Ellis.
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Director: Sean Ellis

Writer: Sean Ellis

Starring: Lena Headey, Melvil Poupaud, Richard Jenkins, Asier Newman, Michelle Duncan, Ulrich Thomsen

Year: 2008

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: UK

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Invasion Of The Body Snatchers