Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Goran Stolevski. Starring Alice Englert, Noomi Rapace, Anamaria Marinca.
Horror, Australia/UK/Serbia, 108 minutes, certificate 15.

Released in cinemas and On Demand 21st October in the UK


It is quite unlikely that you will see a debut film like Goran Stolevski’s YOU WON’T BE ALONE for quite some time. An international co-production with an international cast set in 19th century Macedonia and entirely spoken in that language for extra commercial appeal, this arthouse horror is strikingly original with a storyline steeped in folklore that eventually morphs into an emotional rumination on identity, family and belonging.


Following the life of Biliana, a girl cursed to a life of solitude as a newborn after her distraught mother makes a bargain with a witch who will come to claim her when she is sixteen. Living in isolation in a remote cave until that day, Biliana knows nothing of the world outside. When the witch comes to claim Biliana she passes on a gift that causes the young girl to shapeshift into the people she comes into contact with, taking over their lives. As she shifts from body to body, genders and even species she begins to discover life in all of its beautiful and terrible glory whilst hiding her secret from the close-minded locals. However, every time she comes close to experiencing happiness the witch is all too eager to remind Biliana of her otherworldly nature in increasingly cruel fashion.


The opening frames of the film may put viewers in mind of Robert Eggers and Terence Malick with the images of a terrifying witch covered in disfiguring burns making her way through an idyllic natural landscape. They are unmistakable influences throughout the film but Stolevski still manages to make the film a unique experience mixing the historical and the supernatural with his own immediate and personal style that meshes everything together so impressively. The film has an otherworldly feel due to its impeccably realised sense of time and place. The period detail impresses throughout but the historical setting with its measured and lyrical pacing may leave some viewers slightly disconnected from the film.


Those who are willing to give the film a chance however, or those who tune into it right away, are rewarded with one of the most original horror films in quite some time. Fans of folk horror, especially those who had their eyes opened by last year’s excellent and exhaustive documentary WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED will find much to admire here, especially those who are particularly taken with eastern European folklore. Stolevski also manages to bring an unsettling edge to proceedings with a healthy dose of creepy and sometimes troubling imagery that lives long after in the memory of those who watch this film.


The cast, most of whom play the same character, are all excellent. Especially considering the fact that the majority of them perform in a second language that seemed entirely convincing to my untrained ear. Most recognisable among them is Noomi Rapace whose performance portrays the character of Biliana for only a part of her journey of self-discovery. The other actors performances all mesh together impressively despite the often massive differences in age, gender and species.


Challenging, original and rewarding on an emotive level as well as a storytelling one, YOU WON’T BE ALONE is unlike anything else you will have seen this year. Half arthouse film and half horror film it should satisfy fans of both movements and for anyone else willing to take a chance on this unpredictable and inimitable film.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans