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Grimmfest 2021 Film Feature - Alone With You

Directed by: Emily Bennett, Justin Brooks

Written by: Emily Bennett, Justin Brooks

Starring: Emily Bennett, Barbara Crampton, Dora Madison, Emma Myles, Meghan Lane

 


 

Synopsis: While waiting for her girlfriend to return home for their anniversary, Charlie Crane discovers she’s trapped inside her apartment and begins a frantic fight for survival as nightmarish visions descend and a voice in the wall guides her towards a way out.


Grimmfest say: Perhaps the only really positive thing to have come out of the Covid-19 crisis has been the creative ways in which filmmakers have responded the limitations of life under lockdown; indeed have used those limitations to their advantage. This emotionally gripping, genuinely disturbing and disorientating existential psychological thriller is a genuine tour-de-force from Emily Bennett, who co-writes, co-directs, and almost single-handedly carries the film, with the other actors appearing only via mobile phone or computer, and in a few brief flashbacks. There's a lovely (and increasingly nightmarish) couple of Skype cameos from Barbara Crampton as the protagonist's brittle, judgemental “Christian” mother, and a droll turn from Dora Madison as her drunk, stoned, obnoxious friend, constantly calling her from a bar, but this is very much Bennett's movie, and she is quite extraordinary throughout. It's beautifully shot, too; elegantly framed, yet intimate, making fine use of the enclosed apartment location with its cramped spaces and shadows (and of the bleak, grey seascape of Coney Island during a few flashback/dream sequences); while the elliptical, increasingly fragmented narrative keeps the viewer guessing, both in terms of what is going on, and what is going to happen next. There are echoes of REPULSION in the basic set-up, certainly but also to THE TENANT, as well as nods to David Lynch (particularly LOST HIGHWAY), and to Adrian Lynne's JACOB'S LADDER, in the use of subliminal, half-glimpsed-from-the-corner-of-the-eye moments of disquiet (a figure suddenly glimpsed moving past a doorway in the background, the image in a photograph moving ever so slightly), but while this is an elevated genre film that REALLY knows its genre, it remains a deeply personal work, with a uniquely idiosyncratic voice, and a power to provoke and unsettle that lingers in the mind long after the final credits have rolled.


What I'm expecting: As Grimmfest has said, it's been great to see the creativity displayed by filmmakers over what has been a challenging time for everyone, and films like Host have been great success stories. Alone With You sounds to be a film made very much of the same mould, as it too features performances via mobile phone and computer. And while I think that could be an issue, it sounds like Emily Bennett has done well to impart a personal and unique spin on the film. It's great to see another movie featuring Barbara Crampton: it's always a delight to watch her perform, and her role here as a "judgemental Christian mother" just sounds perfect! I could potentially see problems arising with the film's "intimate" and "enclosed" apartment setting, as this can obviously be very limiting: but this can, of course, also benefit a horror movie greatly. Only time will tell on this matter, but I'm highly excited about Grimmfest's talk of figures in the background and subtle movements that you're never really sure you saw or not. It all sounds very Mike Flanagan inspired; that is to say—it sounds like my cup of tea!

 

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