Alone with You

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Alone with You is a perfect horror movie for the Covid age. It's not about the pandemic, but the entire story unfolds in one location and follows a woman who is isolated from everyone else in her life. Sound familiar? All she has to communicate with is a cell phone and a laptop. The story documents how she goes stir crazy, in part from a lack of ability to connect with anyone during a time of personal crisis. (There's another reason, but I'm not going to tell you what it is.) Running a taut 83 minutes, the film consistently builds suspense on the way to an explosive climax.

Emily Bennett (who co-wrote and co-directed with Justin Brooks) plays Charlie, a makeup artist sitting in her Brooklyn apartment, waiting for girlfriend Simone (Emma Myles) to come home from an out-of-town gig. She calls to see how long Simone will be, only to get her voicemail. That's slightly unnerving, especially considering there have been suggestions that she isn't entirely faithful in the relationship. On top of that, Charlie gets a video call from her judgmental mother (Barbara Crampton) informing her that her grandmother just died. Things get worse. The front door is jammed, trapping Charlie inside. A strange woman can ceaselessly be heard crying through the vents. Mysterious figures move through the apartment. Charlie starts to wonder if she's losing her mind.

Alone with You succeeds as slow-burn horror because it paces things effectively. Although we don't find out what's really going on until the very end, the eerie developments come at a slow-and-steady pace at first, then gradually become more frequent as the movie goes on. Bennett and Brooks create a paranoid vibe that keeps you on edge, right through to the big finale where all hell breaks loose. The way they shoot that finale, with weirdly distorted and overlapping images, shows great filmmaking creativity.

A picture like this really depends on the performances. Most of it is Charlie alone in her apartment. Emily Bennett is very good at conveying how the character loses her grip on reality. In early scenes, Charlie seems mild and timid. A dark, aggressive side comes out the more frustrated she grows by her inability to get resolution on her involuntary confinement. Thanks to Bennett's efforts, we go on a real journey with this troubled young woman. Also excellent is Barbara Crampton, who makes Charlie's mom disapproving at first, borderline sinister later on. In her hands, the shift feels totally natural and thoroughly chilling.

Alone with You might have benefitted from slightly extending the flashbacks showing the Charlie/Simone relationship. Simone is a tiny bit of a mystery to us, and I have a feeling the story's final revelation would hit even harder if we knew her more than we do. Even without that, the movie is a true nerve-rattler. As a directing team, Bennett and Brooks clearly have a bright future.

out of four

Alone with You is unrated, but contains adult language and violence. The running time is 1 hour and 23 minutes.