You won’t be alone is a 2022 foreign horror film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section. In his directorial debut, Goran Stolevski directs a horror film that deserves the recognition it has received so far.
The film is set in 19th century Macedonia and follows a young witch, Nevena, who is isolated in the woods. In a sequence of different deaths, she explores life as a human taking on their alien host form.
You won’t be alone is a great movie to see on the big screen. The shots are simple yet beautifully framed to portray the effortless banality of human life. It’s a horror movie that’s more beautiful than scary and tricks the senses into experimenting with humanity’s simplest instincts and desires. It is intimate and evokes strong emotions through the use of close-ups and handhelds. There is a certain stillness in the imagery of nature and its awe-inspiring, dominating presence. Through these intentional visual aspects of storytelling, an intimacy is created which brings viewers into the curious perspective of the protagonist. In terms of the setting and the focus on nature itself as a character, the cinematography hauntingly frames our world as something that demands more attention than meets the eye naturally.
The film begins a beautiful conversation about humanity and its simplest desires. It features the witch experiencing everything for the first time: love, gender roles, abuse, sexuality, childhood, etc. Through these different human experiences, the viewer can simultaneously experience what makes someone human. There’s something authentic and introspective about the way the film communicates about people’s behavior. It forces people to reflect on themselves and the world around them, on the disturbing and twisted things and on the innocent and lovely things. For a horror film, some themes are pleasantly close to home despite some of its more occult elements.
The performances were perfectly compelling in terms of the action and allowed for consistent engagement with the storyline, despite the various actors portraying the shapeshifting protagonist. The film is mostly silent, with no inconsistent dialogue. It exercised the actors’ ability to act primarily through body language and outward expressions, which is subtle but incredibly communicative. Talents include Noomi Rapace, Alice Englert, Sara Klimoska, Anamaria Marinca, Félix Maritaud, Carloto Cotta and others. The opportunity to empathize and connect with the witch as she plays different people is surprisingly effective and a unique storytelling experience. One particular performance that stood out among the rest was that of Noomi Rapace. Noomi Rapace gives a great performance as the first incarnation of the witch through the body of a village woman named Bosilka. His performance accurately showed behavior that was truly alien to the structure and expectations of society. Noomi Rapace’s expressions and movements were mesmerizing as she silently described the experience of exploring the world for the first time. Through her portrayal, Nevena authentically came to life and allowed the audience to see the world through a pair of fresh eyes.
Honorable mention goes to Anamaria Marinca as Maria, the elder witch known as the “wolf eater.” Her character served as the film’s main antagonist and was effectively portrayed as a mysterious witch whose intentions were left unclear. As the film progresses, she reveals more and more of herself and her motivations, which is oddly enticing and has piqued curiosity. Marinca was able to portray Maria in a way that made audiences understand and empathize with her, creating a truly dynamic character that had more dimension than being clearly evil. Overall, the actors involved in the film managed to anchor the story well, regardless of screen length or line count.
You won’t be alone is one of many independent horror films that are redefining horror as a genre. It works to present a rich story with thematic elements rather than gratuitous gores and scary jumps. It’s a refreshing take on the genre and uses horror elements to its advantage to tell a story worth listening to. In this film, it is less about the number of victims than about the protagonist and his development.
Rating: 5/5 stars
You won’t be alone deserves 5 stars for its strong storytelling elements, cinematography, acting, and ability to pose strong thematic questions to its audience. It is a film made with deliberate intention and meaning but which may not be appreciated by a large audience. It is best suited for fans of indie movies who mainly focus on aesthetic and symbolic content.
You won’t be alone hits theaters on April 1. Check out the trailer below: