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You're Not Alone (2020)

A Predictable But Solid Thriller

Score 6/10 - Standard Faire

Posted by Kevin Nickelson | August 11th, 2022

Synopsis: An evil entity begins to torment a mother and daughter, who are forced to face the inexplicable presence that inhabits the walls of their new home.

It is inevitable, whether you be a veteran reviewer or just a fan, that the horror genre archetypes tend to repeat themselves. Almost like that recurring nightmare that can linger with some folks for years. The slasher killer stalking the pretty victims or the vampire resurrecting with the help of an unfortunate person’s blood. Cyclical in many ways. For the filmmaker in this blood and latex application forum, the key to standing out amongst the rest of his or her colleagues is, if they have not the freshest of materials, to take the familiar and refurbish so as to have it appear exciting and new. You’re Not Alone, from director Eduardo Rodriguez and executive producer Jay Hernandez (of Magnum P.I. reboot fame), travels decidedly down a familiar road, with some nice new upholstery to fool the audience.

A suicide survivor is struggling to get her life back when her estranged husband dies and she is granted custody of the young daughter she has barely seen. The pair move in to a beautiful home and are almost immediately beset by eerie goings-on caused by a strange presence within the domicile’s walls. There is also a creepy ex-acquaintance harrassing mom. And there are the requisite number of flashbacks to the mom’s gruesome attempt to take her own life by slitting her wrists in a bathtub. Is this otherworldly presence real? Is a conventional killer inside the home? Is mommy merely suffering from her own questionable mental state.

The film is a slow burn for nearly two-thirds of its running time, interrupted by a fair deal of faux jump scares that tend to produce a ho-hum reaction after awhile. Action does kick in in time for quite the lively finale. In fact, the blood-soaked climax will suitably appeal to gorehounds and fans of the grisly effect mom and disguised, cloaked killer/presence duke it out with a butcher knife in full use.

The film is a slow burn for nearly two-thirds of its running time, interrupted by a fair deal of faux jump scares that tend to produce a ho-hum reaction after awhile.

Katia Winter carries a compelling presence as the heroine Emma. She adopts the Stanislavsky method of using the face to show emotion quite well, notably in the quiet stare. In a type of film that is easily at risk of inducing the ham performance from actors, Winter is remarkably restrained for the most part. The actress is matched on performance level by Leya Catlett (listed as Ashley E. Jones onscreen) as daughter Isla. Expressing child-like innocence and fear without going full-throttle screaming banshee is no easy task and Catlett balances it well. Patrick Hamilton as the weirdo former friend is one-note psycho caricature pulled from any number of stalk and slash efforts over the years.

Director Rodriguez handles the material well, opting mainly to avoid cgi effects and leaning more toward the less is more, unseen menace formula. This is decidedly a nice change of pace fom the usual, in-your-face monster shows that happen today. He knows how to craft the suspense moment as well, with some neat, languid camera movement and the occasional static pause to infuse dread.

Special note should go to the lush house used for filming, as well as the wooded exteriors in Goshen, New York. The many rooms, especially the attic, lend a certain lonely chill to the events transpiring around mom and daughter. The climactic scene in the woods outdoors brought a definite sense of creep.

Luis Ascanio’s score enhances the feel of foreboding needed for cinema such as this to be truly effective. The building tones of the final 15 minutes really help you forget the gapes in logic the finale has and just enjoy the ride.

You’re Not Alone will surprise no one who has even seen just a few chillers in the celluloid goosebump arena but it does manage to simply entertain as a thriller and look good in doing it.

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