Magic Magic (★★★ Empire Review)

MagicMagicSquareWhen a troubled young woman (Juno Temple) visits Chile with her cousin Sarah (Browning), her already fragile mind begins to unravel, partly due to the carelessly spiteful antics of Sarah’s friend Brink (Michael Cera).

Mental illness is such a terrifying phenomenon, it’s strange that it isn’t the basis of more psychological horror films. Here, insular Alicia (Juno Temple) suffers what seems to be a mental breakdown while holidaying in the Chilean countryside with her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning), her already fragile mind disturbed by the obnoxious antics of Sarah’s friend Brink (Michael Cera). Temple gives an exceptionally raw performance as the girl with the unravelling psyche, and there are echoes of early Polanski (not to mention cult horror Let’s Scare Jessica to Death), but ultimately Chilean writer-director Sebastián Silva’s neither-fish-nor-fowl narrative plays tricks on our minds, without fully engaging our senses.

Sebastián Silva’s psychological horror pushes many of the right buttons, and Juno Temple is terrific, but the film ultimately delivers less than the sum of its parts. ★★★


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