You Are Not Alone. 2014. Directed by Derek Mungor. Screenplay by Mungor & Chris O’Brien.
Krista Dzialoszynski, David O’Brien, Mary Mikva, Keenan Camp, Nikki Pierce, Eric Wood, Katie Johnston-Smith, Tony Rossi, Jonathan Pitts, Johnny Barnas, Allan Carlson, Amber Entas, and Molly Fenton.
HI-FI Motion Pictures.
Not Rated. 93 minutes.
Director Derek Mungor previously co-directed a film called Desolation Wilderness. I’d looked forward to seeing it for a long while before actually getting the chance. It’s an interesting bit of work, to say the least. Not my cup of tea; isn’t completely devoid of anything quality, but overall not the greatest. Still, his directing style is different and he has an artistic side to him obviously. Here, as a solo director, he tries to take a familiar tale and spin it in his own way. You Are Not Alone has the plot and story right out of any number of slashers from Halloween onwards. There’s nothing overly original here. One of the only treats is that we get to sit directly in the perspective of the main character. Since Robert Montgomery’s Raymond Chandler adaptation Lady in the Lake, some movies have opted to put us directly in the perspective of their main character. Gaspar Noé’s groundbreaking 2009 Enter the Void took us along with a young man who dies then finds himself a spirit, watching over his sister, in a drug-fueled modern ghost story. Most recently, Hardcore Henry has taken viewers into a real video game-inspired ride through an action-thriller.
The POV-style horror films we’ve seen before are usually done through found footage, they only take first-person perspective in the sense of we look through the camera. Other than the Maniac remake (that I personally loved) which comes to us via the killer’s eyes, physically keeping us in his perspective.
But this movie, for all its faults, at least takes us through the journey of the victim, right with her. Part of the problem with this horror is the fairly dull first 50 minutes, dragging us towards the final half hour. It’s nice, though, to be put in the seat of the victim in a slasher movie, as in literally behind her eyes. This eliminates the need to satisfy all those unwritten found footage rules. However, it doesn’t eliminate the need for better pacing and a more exciting script. All the same, when things start to tense You Are Not Alone offers a few solid creeps that got to me.
On the 4th of July weekend, Natalie (Krista Dzialoszynski) heads back to her hometown. She gets to spend time with her brother, her friends, and most of all gets to relax. Except things are a little different. Things have changed. And over the course of her first evening, everything becomes more sinister than she could have ever predicted.
It turns out there’s been someone paying close attention to Natalie. Someone watching her for a while. He’s been trying to… spend a little time with Natalie. By the time the night is over, he’ll either get his wish, or she’ll have to fight for her life in order to make it to July 5th.
There are definitely movies which use the whole first-person POV to their advantage, either to make things look interesting or to give the story an exciting spin. However, You Are Not Alone doesn’t do much with it. Yes, we’re drawn very deep into Natalie’s perspective, literally watching the events unfold through her eyes. So there’s an element of the story that makes things personal, emotional, and we’re kept there in that space for the entire 93 minutes. But nothing ever happens, except for the last 15 minutes or so. The creepiness begins before that, and there’s a nice, unsettling lead-up to the finale. There’s simply not enough. Everything builds and builds, but we spend around 70-odd minutes waiting for something that’s not satisfying. A couple creepy moments do not make the whole project work.
I’ll admit, though, that when the scary dude stalking Natalie gets into the house and starts to terrorize her, there are some extremely unnerving bits. Such as the one in the picture below, as he crouches over Natalie, wearing a skin mask, bloody, smiling. Very scary bit. That whole sequence is spooky. The guy does a little dance, mouthing along to a song, and he’s just terrifying in a subtle, hushed sense. Even in the last few moments we see him before the credits roll he still has this bizarre smile on his face, lingering on until it’s all but burned into the back of your mind.
The story is fairly dull. The actors here are nothing special, except for the creeping stalker. On top of that, there’s not a whole lot of explicit violence. There are indeed a few bits with blood; the only one of those worth its weight in horror is the above picture, when the murderous, stalking maniac shows off his new mask. Overall, this is at most a 2-star horror. There isn’t enough of the POV used in a way that’s innovative. With the Maniac remake some of the kills were done excellently in order to showcase how the first-person perspective works as a gimmick, and a good one, too. Just the way they had to film things for that movie is enough to impress anyone, even if you’re not huge on the overall end product. But You Are Not Alone wastes its fun, intriguing premise on nothing, save the last 15 minutes that have a little dose of terror with which the audience can walk away. Check it out just to see what you think. Although, I would not count on being thrilled too often, be prepared to get bored before a mildly entertaining finale.