‘This Never Happened’ Review – New Tubi Original Is an Unoriginal Ghost Story

Tubi has been making strides with its original horror content lately, albeit small ones. For instance, director Ted Campbell’s first overtly horror offering, This Never Happened, shows how the popular streaming platform is progressing in the genre game while still having plenty of room to improve. These newer originals certainly look better than their predecessors; more effort in the visuals department makes a noticeable difference. Yet this tale of spectral vengeance can’t coast on its good looks alone. Beneath the attractive surface sits an uninspired story that won’t save this movie from ultimately becoming lost in Tubi’s growing catalog of made-in-house horrors.

Looking at both Campbell and co-writer Richard Pierce’s track record so far, the pair doesn’t have much experience in horror. Essentially all they did here was take the plot of one of their grounded thrillers and add a supernatural element. Two, in fact. On top of the ghost is the main character’s preternatural gift: Emily (played capably by María José De La Cruz) can talk to the dead. Not in a “look into my crystal ball” kind of way, but, nevertheless, she can communicate with spirits as well as see into the past. Whether or not she likes it. That interesting facet of the protagonist eventually comes to the surface as she attends her boyfriend’s (Javier Dulzaides) father’s funeral. It also becomes crucial to solving the mystery at the heart of This Never Happened.

While other similar movies might try to be vague — characters having random premonitions with no supernatural origin, for instance — This Never Happened is open about Emily’s abilities. The writers even spell it out for you not once but twice (and not counting a somewhat spoilery opening scene). First, Ana Laura Espinosa plays the kind shopkeeper who picks up on Emily’s clairvoyance as well as provides the sense of tolerance lacking in the young woman’s life. Then, Emily directly explains everything to her incredulous and rather insensitive boyfriend, Mateo. The same boyfriend who says things like, “Maybe you forgot to take your pills.”

Unfortunately, This Never Happened succumbs to stale plot developments and cardboard characters after a promising start. Following the funeral, Emily and Mateo invite friends to stay at his family’s lavish home for the night. A place obviously harboring a dark secret or two, by the way. The script never bothers to give Mateo’s friends the benefit of the doubt either, seeing as they act shady from the moment they first show up. In general, the movie’s mystery aspect is too straightforward and foreseeable for seasoned horror enthusiasts.

Particular design elements of the uncanny manifestation, such as her sharp-toothed snarl, make her come across as more cheesy than intimidating. The restrained interpretation of this angry spirit is preferred to the over-the-top model. Compensating for a goofy-looking ghost are kill sequences that tap into the ferocity of older Italian horror. However, that nasty modern habit of hurrying things along rather than prolonging and savoring the violence comes up here, as does the infuriating trend of poor scene lighting.

This movie fits in well with the likes of The Grudge. Namely those horror movies where a location is haunted by a vengeful and bloodthirsty spirit. Once you make that connection, the story plays out as you would expect. All in all, things definitely happened in This Never Happened, but apart from a decent step up in production values and a solid performance from the lead actor, very little of this movie is of note.

This Never Happened is now streaming on Tubi.

2 skulls out of 5

This Never Happened

Pictured: This Never Happened poster courtesy of MarVista Entertainment.

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