March 31st, 2022
MOVIE: YOU WON’T BE ALONE
STARRING: ALICE ENGLERT, NOOMI RAPACE, SARA KLIMOSKA
DIRECTED BY: GORAN STOLEVSKI
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone is a horror movie under the skin of a Terrence Malick film. It’s a terrifying folk tale wrapped in a husk that reveals the beauty of life. It involves a pink burnt skinned demon named Old Maid Maria (Anamaria Marinca), arriving at the home of a mother in the mountain side, and letting her know that it’s time for her to make a sacrifice. In her desperation, the mother hides her child in the caves; But of course this demon has mysterious ways of finding what it wants. Soon the demon changes its appearance, finding the child and passing the curse onto the teenager. She quickly has the same hunger the demon has, first eating animals and soon taking on the lives of various people, from mothers, daughters, strong men, and young children. It all amounts to a process of discovery, as You Won’t Be Alone becomes a beautiful journey of life, love, birth and death, all wrapped into a terrifying and fascinating experience.
Describing You Won’t Be Alone out loud might entice an audience, where it takes place in 19th century Macedonia and involves a demon that teaches Nevena (initially played by Sara Klimoska) to feast on the weak. She learns to take their form, only to move on to the next one, in the way only taught by a demon. It starts with eating flesh and a ripped open portal in the chest, allowing her to swallow body parts, in an eventual process for shapeshifting. Written by Stolevski, it begins as demon possession, but with each body that is corrupted, the entity starts to learn, grow, and show affection for others. Simply put, this is an example of the stages of life. From a wailing child, to a grunting monster willing to eat any flesh, followed by a woman in a town that mimics everything she watches. It’s through this process of metamorphosis, an evolutionary process, where the entity learns, growing to be more than its origin.
As far as notable actors go, the most recognizable is Noomi Rapace, who delivers some of the best work of the cast. She’s a simple woman named Bosilka, living in a small town and becomes an unexpected victim in a barn. She emerges similar to a human possessed by aliens, where her performance is equal to a newborn deer, mimicking the movement of others, forcing her husband to think she is sick. She traces her hands and copies her mother-in-law while sweeping. It’s soon through the act of sex where the demon takes hold and Bosilka takes over an unsuspecting man. It’s from this point on where the entity learns and grows turning the narrative into a complete 180 of terrifying horror to beautiful expression of love.
To some it might be a narrative process that is redundant and when someone even mentions Terence Mallick you can expect some repulsion. That critic is not me and I absolutely loved the inspiring direction from Stolevski. What may seem hard to leap to, but the third act of You Won’t Be Alone is not just great, but a blossoming expression of love. After a few repetitions of eating or killing others, it becomes evident that the growth of Nevena is powerful. Sacrifices are made for other characters, the host becomes a beautiful happy dog, a man that attracts many women, a young romance for Biliana (Alice Englert), and one that even sacrifices his life for that of a child.
Similar to Malick’s Tree of Life or Knight of Cups, this is a film that encapsulates the origin of species, the creation of life, learning about others, and how one person can grow to be loved. It’s a fascinating arc, and although the script could be tightened up by one less character, the final product is more than a minor flaw. You Won’t Be Alone is inexplicably beautiful, ripe with golden cinematography by Matthew Chuang, and a lovely message of growth. Like a war boy preaching to Valhalla, there’s an underlying message in You Won’t Be Alone. Characters live, they die, they consume, they move on, and they live again. What starts as a terrifying horror experience, evolves into much more, a life for a demon where love is the goal in the end.
YOU WON’T BE ALONE IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS April 1st, 2022
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady