Miranda Veil (Annabel Barrett, Ocean’s Rising) is a young woman whose biggest problem seems to be getting her parents Alice (Vida Ghaffari, Eternal Code, Apex Predators) and Daniel (Kelton Jones, Dry Blood, The Evil Down the Street) to stop being so overprotective.
Soren (Zach Steffey, Vampires: Rise of the Fallen, The Marshall) is a young man whose biggest problem is the voice in his head telling him to kill. When he abducts and kills her he becomes Miranda’s biggest problem. When she suddenly comes back to life, everyone has a problem.
Writer/director Levin Garbisch (I Shall Never Return) actually managed to find a new twist on the serial killer/victim theme. Miranda Veil certainly starts conventionally enough as we follow the two leads through their lives. One celebrating her 21st birthday, the other unable to kill the woman he’s kidnapped before setting his sights on Miranda.
It’s not until he’s tortured and killed her, several times for that matter, that the film strays from the torture porn path it seems to be on and goes on its own journey. Killer and victim team up and go on a road trip to find the reason behind her seeming immortality and inability to feel pain. How’s that for an unlikely buddy comedy?
And Miranda Veil is as much a comedy, a very dark one to be sure, as it is a horror film. The argument between Miranda and Soren after he’s tried to kill her makes that hysterically clear. He’s convinced she’s dead and he’s hallucinating, she’s trying to convince him, and herself, she’s alive despite just having her head split open with an axe.
Once they hit the road the variety of odd characters they run into only adds to the strangeness. A man in a rabbit suit, a hitchhiker with a philosophical stuffed fox, a woman haunted by dead cats. It’s a bizarre cavalcade of characters in an already bizarre film. And while they add humour and pathos to the story the film kind of loses its way here. The characters are interesting but it pulls the focus away from the main story up until Miranda returns home. And with the film running just about an hour and three quarters a little trimming of those sequences wouldn’t have hurt.
Miranda Veil gets back on track in the last half hour, but it’s lost a bit of steam. And while the film goes full supernatural, what we learn about Miranda’s condition is somewhat unsatisfying. It’s almost as if Garbisch himself couldn’t come up with a proper explanation and just winged it. If it was meant as a lead into a sequel, it’s not a good one.
The resolution of Soren and Miranda’s relationship may also leave some people upset. Because Miranda Veil is also a love story. I liked it, it appealed to the twisted romantic in me. But I can also see the obvious comments about a toxic relationship and Stockholm Syndrome.
Apart from the clever script Miranda Veil benefits from excellent performances by the two leads. Annabel Barrett is likable and believable as the young woman who has her life repeatedly turned upside down. Steffey actually manages to make us feel for his character, pushed and tormented by the voices in his head and ultimately fighting them and trying to find redemption. Ghaffari and Jones are good with the small role of Miranda’s parents who struggle to understand what happened while she was gone. I’d actually have liked to have seen a bit more of that actually. It fit the plot better than the people they met on the road.
Despite its flaws, Miranda Veil is a mostly intriguing film that kept my attention throughout. It’s also a welcome twist on an old and worn-out theme. It’s certainly worth a watch, and I hope to see more of the people involved with it.