One of my favorites out of Fantastic Fest 2021 is definitely Alone with You. It’s a simple story, set largely in a single location, where our main character is the target of a somewhat unconventional haunting. Directors Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks craft a chilling tale that uses shattered imagery to create a downward spiral of dread.
As the film opens, Charlie (Bennett) is preparing to welcome her girlfriend, Simone (Emma Miles). Simone is a photographer who has been away on a job, and Charlie is excitedly preparing a homecoming surprise in their beautiful Brooklyn apartment. She wants everything to be perfect. She has the flowers, the wine, the sexy nightgown—everything. Through some early flashbacks, we get the sense that all has not been well in their relationship, and that this surprise might be a bit of a peace offering as much as a homecoming. But either way, Charlie is excited and anxiously awaiting Simone’s return.
As she waits, she begins to experience a number of unsettling events. Strange voices, dodgy Wi-Fi, and frustrating calls with friends and family members only increase her anxiety as she waits for Simone to finally arrive. The door, prone to getting stuck, refuses to open, and she becomes trapped inside her own home. She waits and waits, but nothing. No Simone, no calls, no responses to her voicemails. Charlie waits in the apartment alone and with every passing minute, her dread builds.
As the story goes on, Charlie is plagued by strange visions and memories. Moments with Simone, horrifying imagery that doesn’t make sense, and the ever-increasing sense of doom and isolation that she feels being locked in the apartment alone. She is slowly being driven to the brink of sanity, but by what? And why?
Bennett and Brooks make the most of their single location. The apartment starts the film as a very cozy, welcoming space. It’s a home. Over the course of the story, it becomes something else. The familiar becomes threatening and the home becomes a prison as Charlie struggles to sort through the bombardment of images and events that are plaguing her.
The film is a bit of a puzzle, as much to the audience as to its main character. Bennett and Brooks do an excellent job of feeding us information as we need it, but holding back when necessary. The pacing is fantastic and their patience as storytellers really pays off. This is definitely a slow burn film, but never are we sitting around waiting for something to happen.
Bennett leads the film confidently in her portrayal of Charlie. She gives the character a vulnerability that serves the story well. And even though we are largely in a single location, there is still a solid supporting cast. Dora Madison pops up periodically as Charlie’s friend Thea, who is constantly calling from a local bar, begging Charlie to bail on her plans and come out for drinks. Barbara Crampton also makes a memorable appearance early on in the film as Charlie’s mother.
Alone with You is not to be missed. Well-acted and skillfully executed, it’s filled with moments of fear, dread, and uncertainty. Charlie is being haunted, but by what? There is a truth at the heart of this story that is as terrifying as anything that she sees within the walls of her apartment, but it will take time for her to fully understand it.
Movie Score: 5/5
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