Directed by: Goran Stolevski
Premise: Set in 19th century Macedonia, a young girl is kidnapped by a witch. As the girl grows up, she discovers an ability to shapeshift and lives multiple lives.
What Works: You Won’t Be Alone is a work of folk horror that manipulates some of the tropes of that genre. The film recalls Under the Skin in its tone and the way it examines the female experience. You Won’t Be Alone uses the concept of witches as a way to consider how women go through life. This film centers on a girl who is unwittingly turned into a supernatural creature and adopts other people’s identities, mostly women. As a result, she lives through various experiences and the title of You Won’t Be Alone refers to feminine solidarity. The protagonist is played by multiple actors but there is an identifiable consistency between them. This witch fumbles her way through cultural norms and although it takes place in another century there is plenty in You Won’t Be Alone that is recognizable to contemporary viewers. Motherhood and domestic abuse are part of this woman’s experiences and her unfamiliarity with social norms highlights aspects of the female experience that might otherwise be taken for granted. You Won’t Be Alone has an interesting and unusual look. A lot of scenes are framed tightly with the characters trapped together within the boundaries of the image, giving a sense of crowding that complements the witch’s supernatural abilities. Despite the fairytale qualities of its premise, You Won’t Be Alone is filmed in a very naturalistic way. There is little reliance on obvious visual effects and the picture has a cold and harsh style that suits the tone of the picture and its observations about women’s lives.
What Doesn’t: You Won’t Be Alone can be categorized as an arthouse horror picture but it isn’t a horror film in the traditional sense. The film isn’t really built around scares and suspense. It’s a more contemplative film and its horror is cerebral. That’s a valid filmmaking approach and it’s the right one for this film but You Won’t Be Alone does not offer the familiar kind of scares or narratives that we typically find even in horror pictures even those of the arthouse variety such as The Witch and Midsommar. Some of You Won’t Be Alone occurs out of sequence and it is not always clear where scenes occur on the timeline.
Bottom Line: You Won’t Be Alone is a unique horror fantasy with a distinct take on traditional folktale tropes. It is a cerebral film but it’s also a thoughtful and provocative movie about womanhood.
Episode: #897 (April 10, 2022)