You Are Not Alone, written and directed by Mark Ezra (Slaughter High), follows screenwriter Matt and his musician girlfriend Jen, who trade their California home for the atmospheric wiles of a Glastonbury manor. Soon after arrival, however, strange things start happening and the couple are forced to confront the fact they might not be as alone as originally intended.
Originally titled Home Swap, You Are Not Alone makes its first big mistake with its preposterous tourists who grate on viewer patience with their assumptive and irritating behaviour. For example, what right-minded traveller grabs a passer-by and gets them to hold a camera whilst said traveller blabs with their partner for 10 minutes for the good of the travel log? That’s just plain rude. When the hapless couple discover a turd on their bathroom floor, here’s how the conversation goes:
‘Flush it away!’
‘I’m not going to leave it in the house, Jen!’
Yeh Jen, Jesus, everyone knows that flushing a shit just transposes it to another secret locale where it can further upset the machinations of the creative environment. The turd thing could have been pretty creepy too.
One of the most disappointing things about You Are Not Alone is the fact it squanders an opportunity by totally ignoring the legends around Glastonbury Tor. Jen and Matt climb the Tor, have an encounter with a violent local, but the fact that the Tor is a supposed gateway to Hell is totally ditched. So many possibilities erupt from that fact, opportunities to throw doubt on the origins of the threat, not to mention possible reasons for the couple’s skittish emotional behaviour. But no. Instead, Ezra seems content to paint by numbers, plodding from one act to the other with no variable solution, simply an anti-climactic series of events that happen thanks to one of the dullest and most offensive horror clichés.
On the other hand, Ezra does pull off some fairly creepy sequences just by manipulating sounds around the “empty” house. It’s those basic low-budget scares that will always cause the most impact because they have a certain deniability to them, until there’s footsteps on a bubble-wrapped floor, then everything gets a bit panicky. Still, even when the threat is identified there’s still a few spooks to be had, but the sense of danger just isn’t there because you won’t care about the film’s irksome protagonists.
The issue here is that so much of the film feels forced. The fake camera static, awkward action shots, jump scares, and even its climax of discovery and destruction. There’s a real lack of fluid and engaging motion to the film that curtains any opportunity for consistent engagement. Its characters and situations don’t feel connected, but a consistent sense up discomfort and use of basic spooks does keep the film watchable.
Some eerie moments and impressive sound construction can’t save You Are Not Alone from being just another handheld horror about bumps in the night.
Dir. Mark Ezra
Stars. Nathan Nolan, Evie Brodie, Simon Dutton, Louise Houghton, Seth Sinclair