Monday, July 4, 2016
See Her Fear: You Are Not Alone (2014)
Starring: Krista Dzialoszynski, David O'Brien, Mary Mikva
In recent years, the found footage trend has been running amuck with near-countless horror and science fiction titles utilizing this gimmick, though very few of them answers why the good folks holding the camera continue to film the horrible things happening in front of them. Well, what if they don't have a choice? What if what we are seeing is not through the eyes of a device, but through the eyes of the characters themselves?
As far as I can tell, we only have a handful of titles that completely used the POV shtick to tell its story without the catch that it's a supposed "found footage", some of which being the 2012 Maniac remake (if you can overlook one or two scenes shown in third-person) and the 2013 splatter movie Hotel Inferno. Now, You Are Not Alone is a welcome addition to this trend, a simple first person slasher flick told through the eyes of our heroine, Natalie, as she visits her home town for a Fourth of July weekend.
We see her meet up with family, catch up with friends, discuss existentialism while smoking some good shit with said friends, and eventually walking home alone from an alcohol-fueled party late one night. The thing is, all is not well for this little town as a string of suspected serial killings has been popping up lately and it seems the culprit decided to take his chance on our heroine. First the lurking, then the break-ins, then the murders, Natalie's night will unfortunately spiral into chaos and deaths as the deranged psychopath stalks and toys her around, finishing off anybody in the way.
The simple fact that the movie was done through a would-be victim's perspective is already an advantage for the plot; while, in a way, the filming style is no different from the found footage trend, You Are Not Alone actually felt more organic as it lacks many of the gimmicky pseudo-camera tricks many footage films rely on (grainy quality, shaky cam, and quick edits disguised as camera glitches to name a few) and actually goes through the time of building around fun, interesting and deep characters, creating a more realistic premise and tone to all things seen here, may it be the mundane or the terrifying. The result is the very purpose of a found footage film, only applied better in quality and atmosphere.
The set of eyes we are looking through, our Natalie character, also felt more identifiable with her kind of life, facing relatable problems and coping with them in ways a normal person might from partying to drinking brew in some friend's basement. While we barely (if not ever) see our character in person, her very responses to most of the events happening to her easily made her soon-fears and anguishes our own all that easy as we can adapt to her position, which very well helped with this movie's many tension-filled scenes.
In terms of scares, it is still heavily influenced by the footage genre with its uses of jumpsband broodiness rather than gore, sleaze or bodycount. Now for a slasher, this means the casualties are not relatively high nor that gory as we are restrained to only one perspective, but some of the things the maniac (a disturbingly average looking fellow, mind you) do for the sake of his thrill are very upsetting (particularly the home invasion scenes) so I personally think the movie did quite a lot with something so little and simple.
Sadly, as admirable of an effort this movie is, it is not without it's own recognizable defects; also as a slasher, it's sadly suffered from some of the sub-genre's known cliches, mainly plot conveniences such as the town being nearly deserted to the point it's dead and dumb decisions like all the missed opportunities to actually fend off (if not kill) the maniac. The lack of killcount and one-person perspective also led to a decent dose of walking (or rather limping) scenes at the third act, so the very showdown between Natalie and the killer felt underwhelming and anticlimactic, robbing us a chance to see Natalie fend herself for real. Then again, we are supposed to see these situations realistically so I guess You Are Not Alone will be one of those films ending itself differently.
Overall, while it is not that great nor original in terms of plotting, the movie still gets my approval as a good viewing. When things like grue and double digit murders can't find a spot on a story, it is always best to place your cards on other scare factors and this movie knew how to work its way around the exploitative horror materials some modern scare flicks constantly stick with. So if genuine scares and sinister turns are your thing, just remember: You Are Not Alone!
1 female murdered (real (?) 911 call)
1 male stabbed with a fire poker, face flayed off
1 male knifed to death
1 male shot, knifed on the neck