REVIEW: Thought-provoking West Sussex thriller looks into hidden risks of flying

Georgina Sutcliffe in A Dark Reflection
Georgina Sutcliffe in A Dark Reflection

Film: A Dark Reflection (15, 102 minutes), directed by Tristan Loraine

It’s easy to become worried by the thought of flying.

Whizzing through the air at 550 mph sounds pretty scary and, understandably, makes a lot of people nervous.

Many take comfort in the fact that it’s still, statistically, the safest way to travel and try to ignore the small but obvious risks of flying.

But what if there was a danger that you didn’t know about, one that you couldn’t see?

A Dark Reflection tells the intriguing tale of two journalists, Helen Eastman (Georgina Sutcliffe) and Natasha Stevens (Rita Ramnani), who uncover some troubling secrets about the aviation industry while investigating the fictional JASP Airlines.

A loosely related but heart-pounding opening filmed in Jordan suggests that the rest of the film will take place in exotic thriller territory.

However, after Helen has been left shell-shocked by gunshots and bloodshed, she takes a job at a UK newspaper, the ‘Sussex Standard’, and the story relocates to the (apparently) quiet English countryside. The West Sussex countryside to be more specific with much of the film’s action taking place in Horsham, including some scenes around the County Times’ offices.

A Dark Reflection is described as a conspiracy thriller, but plays more like a tense conspiracy drama. The film pays a lot of attention to the emotions involved in covering up highly important information. JASP company man Ben Tyrell (Mark Dymond) may look suave but internally he’s struggling with fear and shame, while air traffic controller Joe Forbes (TJ Herbert) is definitely losing sleep over what he knows.

Isabelle Morris (the superb Leah Bracknell) is also falling apart thanks to the illness of her husband Captain David Morris (Stephen Tompkinson).

The way the plot unfolds is very realistic, as the tenacious journos gradually gather the evidence they need for their story. For example, the Sussex Standard’s editor Nick Robertson (Paul Antony-Barber), refuses to run an exposé until Helen has concrete evidence. “Prove it!” he yells spectacularly as a frustrated Helen fails to adequately connect the dots for him.

Sure, it’s not a movie with lots of shoot-outs and car chases, but what A Dark Reflection lacks in high octane thrills it makes up for in intelligence and great performances from the ensemble cast. The implications of the cover-up help create an atmosphere of dread too, keeping things tense throughout the film’s runtime.

See it before you go flying.