Your face comprises a significant part of your physical identity, but what do you do when you discover that it is not actually yours? We are introduced to main protagonist, Mickey (Tuppence Middleton), lying in a hospital bed, unable to move or speak. The tear that trickles down the side of her face resonates with us and from that moment we are completely on her side. In recovery, Mickey tries to piece together her life before the accident, stumbling on some truths that might change who she is altogether. A girl, her best friend, Do (Alexandra Roach) who supposedly died in the accident is the catalyst for the Trap for Cinderella‘s narrative.
Obsessed with Mickey she will do anything for her and to be like her, even boasting a similar haircut. And although Mickey is quick to drop her doting sidekick, director Ian Softley soon reminds us of the traumatised girl lying in the hospital, and our allegiance returns immediately to Mickey. What would seem like a stereotypical story of the plainer girl, wanting to be her glamorous friend takes a sickening turn. Living in Mickey’s world, Do finds herself becoming more and more consumed, until she agrees to end it all. She choses to give herself the life she believes she deserves, and is prepared to endure a complete metamorphosis, her Cinderella moment, in order to become the girl she has always wanted to be.
Middleton’s performance as the girl who we love, hate and ultimately want to be, is effortless and astounding. We feel obliged to help her discover who she has become. Trap for Cinderella encourages your mind to continually work out the next piece of Mickey’s puzzle, sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t, which is the beauty of Softley’s direction. In repeating moments from sequences our impatience grows as we beg Softley to reveal the true nature of the image. He challenges us to discover before Mickey who she is and how her past will shape her new identity through jump-cuts and some incredibly handled claustrophobic camera shots. It’s an ingenious way to overcome the films low-budget background.
Softley gambles with our ability, enticing us to guess again, even if we are wrong. Despite the many chilling promises this film has to offer, the slight pitfall lies in the conclusion, which fails to deliver on tension or shock and in a mystery thriller this is an almost unforgivable misstep. Trap for Cinderella is still a decent vehicle for Middleton and Softley, although could easily have been a made-for-TV thriller.