There is really something to admire about Derek Mungor’s stalker / slasher horror You Are Not Alone. He has taken a familiar premise and through inventive and original direction and camera work, delivered a film far from the routine fare diluting the genre. Sadly, the thing that makes the film so different, is also, ultimately, it’s failing.
Returning to her hometown from college on the 4th July, Natalie (Dzialoszynski) is hoping for a fun weekend enjoying the celebrations with friends. What she didn’t expect was to be stalked by a deranged killer who just won’t give up.
Mungor has taken the brave choice of setting his film entirely from Natalie’s point of view, so much so that you never really see her face at all. Doing so gives the film a truly engaging and involving sense of realism, placing you right there with Natalie whether she’s pottering around her old neighbourhood and meeting friends, or running terrified from a knife-wielding sociopath. There is a natural energy to the early scenes and the original viewpoint creates a sense of foreboding and mystery in that you are only ever aware of what Natalie is herself.
Unhappily, this sensation just cannot be sustained for the entire film, and what was once so effective and intoxicating becomes irritating and tedious. As Natalie repeatedly flees from her attacker, the nature of the filming style demands that she constantly looks behind her; constantly needs to check where her foe is. This leads the film into one of the more common pitfalls of found footage films, with the screen filled with intolerably shaky images that will either irritate you intensely, or render you unhappily queasy. When Natalie should simply be concerned with running away as fast as possible, and looking where she’s going, the audience needs to see what’s behind her, and that cleverly generated realism dissipates.
On the whole, You Are Not Alone is a good example of what can be achieved on a low budget with some real imagination. The issue is in how to maintain that for a full 90 minutes, and disappointingly Mungor just hasn’t managed to overcome it. This is a film worth seeing, if only for the interesting premise, but be prepared for a difficult final act that will shakily lead you towards a conclusion that never feels quite thought through.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: DEREK MUNGOR / SCREENPLAY: DEREK MUNGOR, CHRIS O’BRIEN / STARRING: KRISTA DZIALOSZYNSKI, KEENAN CAMP, NIKKI PIERCE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW