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When You Are Gone

average rating is 3 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Nov 3, 2022

Film Reviews
When You Are Gone
Directed by:
Rafael Altamira
Written by:
Rafael Altamira
Andrew Forner, Kelsie McDonald, Sarah Nichols, Thomas I. Hall, Thomas Blackburne

Promising architect James (Andrew Forner) opens the door to an empty house and a mysterious phone call telling him to check his emails. There, he finds a link to a livestream showing his wife Sylvia (Kelsie McDonald) tied to a chair being held captive by a mysterious stranger. Despite his pleading, bargaining and ultimately empty threats, his wife is killed right in front of him, sending James into a spiral of guilt and depression.


Years later, after time and therapy has done what it can, life seems to be getting back on track for James. Work is good, he’s the boss’ go-to guy, he starts dating his assistant, finally James might actually be ready to put the past behind him. However, our protagonist soon begins to become haunted by his wife’s memory once more and begins receiving various demands by an anonymous blackmailer suggesting there may be more to Sylvia’s death than previously thought.


Rafael Altamira’s tense and entertaining feature film When You Are Gone is a slow starter that plants its feet well and after a cagey opening ten minutes or so, begins to really find its rhythm and then doesn’t look back, taking its audience down a winding path of mystery and intrigue where all isn’t what it seems.


The film has great levels of tension, not to mention a few jump scares to keep audiences on their toes as well, Altamira could be a decent horror director if that is the path he might be so inclined to choose. Most of these intense moments are played out with a very adept and subtle hand and the complimenting score really helps elevate them too to maximum effect. However, it must be said that the horror makeup and prosthetics on display here really aren’t up-to-scratch with the rest of the film and while not always on full show, when they are it’s simply way too much and really puts a dent in the rest of the hard-work going on here, meaning some of that well-earned audience good faith is slightly lost and needs to be regained.


But for the most part the film is able to maintain its desired atmosphere right the way through. In fact, it’s impressive how the film really paces itself very well despite being over two hours in length, somehow managing to sustain that well-crafted momentum right to the very end. Part of the reason for that could be that it’s a strongly written film. There aren’t heaps of useless exposition or pointless filler bloating proceedings, each scene or moment offers something to the whole and Altamira is conscious to take those moments that allow the film breath before ramping up again which helps attention spans from wavering.


The film’s finale while not necessarily failing in terms of its idea, does stumble somewhat in terms of its execution and believability, but not enough to really tarnish all the good that comes before it. The performances are generally strong throughout the cast, characters and performances while not necessarily extraordinary feel authentic and deliver what and when they need to, and special mention must go to Eduardo Aznar as Detective George Darrius who seems to be having the most fun and quite frankly, needs his own movie.


Was it worth it? Oh, for sure. Overall, When You Are Gone is a good an outing as any writer/director could hope for as their first feature film. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a damn good effort.

Check out the official trailer for When You Are Gone here 

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Theatrical Release, Amazon Prime, Indie Feature Film
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