Film Review - What Keeps You Alive

>> Human connection is universal, and it’s something we can all relate with. Whether it pertains to friendship, family, or partnership, we all have a link to the people in our lives and that solidifies over time with trust and solidarity. Written and directed by Colin Minihan (Grave Encounters, It Stains the Sands Red), What Keeps You Alive explores the idea of a fractured link and the possibility that we may not truly know those who are the closest to us. The film premiered at 2018’s South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and was selected as one of the festival’s Midnighters (a category for “scary, funny, sexy, controversial – provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious” according to the SXSW.) What Keeps You Alive is now available for digital download and playing in select theatres.

The films follows Jules (Brittany Allen) and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson), a married couple who are celebrating their one-year anniversary in a heavily-wooded heirloom cabin. When events from Jackie’s childhood begin to resurface, her demeanor changes and results in Jules fighting for her own survival. Despite the clichéd forested environment that is typical in horror movies, What Keeps You Alive is beautifully and effortless composed. Long takes will swiftly and smoothly carry you throughout the barren woods and rustic cabin, while gradually building tension that lasts until the films final moments. This unease is intensified by the film’s score which is composed by Allen. The distorted ambient sounds that make up the score are sure to unsettle the most calm and collected viewer.

No matter how many demonic nuns Hollywood throws at us, there’s nothing more terrifying than the potential evil of another person. To look at your significant other and truly not know who they are is a terrifying thing. I mean, how sure are you really that your significant other isn't a psychopath? What Keeps You Alive will definitely make you question who you’re sleeping next to at night, even if they are seemingly saintly. Allen's and Anderson's performances are exceptional–Especially Anderson's, which is simply bone chilling. However, in the words of the wise Jack Nicholson, “there were too many endings!”. Every time you think this film is coming to a conclusion, guess again. While not a major fault, the film could be improved with a more direct and less drawn out ending.

It’s refreshing—also a bit intriguing—to see how lenient and forward thinking the world of independent and art-house horror continues to be. This genre allows for exploratory ventures and welcomes fresh directors with open arms; such as Kevin Phillips (Super Dark Times), Julia Ducournau (RAW), and Karyn Kusama (The Invitation). What Keeps You Alive reaffirms the ability to create a visceral, successful, and crazy thriller flick with a low budget and some elbow grease. 7.5/10 <<