Wednesday, 3 February 2016

You Are Not Alone (2014) - Horror Film Review

You Are Not Alone (directed by Derek Mungor) was released back in 2014 over in America but this month sees it's UK DVD release. It is a slasher film, but one with a difference, the whole movie is shown from the perspective of the main heroine, something that I personally have not seen before (of course I watched P.O.V last year but that's not a slasher).

Natalie (Krista Dzialoszynski) has returned to her home town to celebrate the fourth of July celebrations, she plans to meet up with friends and party. There is a curfew in effect though as a killer is on the loose, and soon the paths of these two people cross...

Despite the many flaws You Are Not Alone has it is unarguable that the soundtrack is simply stunning. The choice of licensed tracks for the quieter moments are very well chosen, yet the more sinister score that sets in once the horror begins is also great stuff, leading up to a fantastic end credits track. In the best way the music really compliments what we as the viewer are seeing adding to the sometimes dream like aura this movie exudes.

It all starts well with a drive into town with Natalie and her brother Garrett, the plot then moves onto a meeting with her Nana before she meets up with close friends Katie (Nikki Pierce) and Miles (Keenan Camp). The films first half is the trio hanging out, having fun, a total red herring for where the film is to go. During this first half there are many fantastic incidental scenes of Natalie and her friends walking around with the volume muted and great music playing, kind of trippy in the best way, the soft blur effect creating the feel of a dreamscape.

The second half of the film has Natalie meeting the psycho and is a drop in quality unfortunately. I had assumed the scenes where we get to meet her friends would have meaning, that these very same friends would then become in peril and having gotten to know them we would fear for their safety, but in a mild spoiler they leave the film and are never seen again, left behind as Natalie heads off alone (at night, while she knows full well there is an actual killer on the loose). You Are Not Alone just cannot sustain itself when it is just Natalie alone, it led to moments of utter boredom with her not really doing anything at all, just walking around her home while ominous music plays. Thankfully the psycho when he finally appears is scene stealing. The killer (somehow played by two people; Dan Abbate and Sean Cooley) is a snappily dressed handsome man who is forever grinning and dancing. His weirdness is unnerving and reminded me so much of the short horror 2AM: The Smiling Man that came out in 2013. He doesn't get too much screen time but whether he is in the deep background or up close manages to be creepy, the best bit of the film by far is when Natalie has been knocked to the ground and the killer is crouched over her miming to a song playing on the radio, just sums his character up perfectly. As an admittance; I didn't actually notice the killer wears a mask to begin with, it was only when I looked at screenshots I realised!

The immediate problem with You Are Not Alone is that Natalie is a complete blank slate, a cypher for the viewer to project themselves onto, P.O.V started off with the character whose eyes we were seeing the film from looking into a mirror, here you never once see Natalie, the most you see is the occasional arm, and a few shots of her legs. The film can't seem to decide if she is meant to be characterless or have some sort of depth to her leading to some truly bizarre disconnect. On the one hand she is near mute, on the other when she does speak it is at once both off putting and full of place holder text in a verbal sense. She is shown to not be completely innocent; at a party she nearly causes a fight between two men, while elsewhere she ignores a promise she made to Katie's Dad about getting her home safely (because, you know, there is an actual killer on the loose). It is straight up hard to feel any sort of concern for a character we don't actually get to ever meet.

This is a film of two distinct halves, it is a shame the non horror part is the better of the two. after being so used to screaming victims having one who barely utters a word while being chased felt odd to say the least, she even bursts into a neighbours home at one point, rather than explain anything at all she just tells him to 'call the cops' and says nothing else. It stops and starts with the parts featuring the killer engaging, then the parts when she is back alone dull rather than dramatic, it does all lead up to a fantastically ambiguous ending but there is just too much down time.

There is quality camera work on display here, and none of the head bobbing you might expect from a point of view shot film, also I love the abrupt choppy editing during the conversation scenes, rather than one long shoot different takes are spliced together that are charming to watch. This is quite a blood free affair, I guess in some ways a more realistic slasher, and there is no denying the sublime music but overall if not for that very same music this would just be plain average, This has a boat load of wasted potential but on the basis of the music I recommend this. You Are Not Alone is released on DVD in the UK on 22nd February via Sharp Teeth Films.


Check out the official UK trailer for the film below, as always there are bound to be spoilers...

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