Running Time: 97 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist and Critic
I’ll admit to getting Derek Mungor’s slasher movie, You are Not Alone completely wrong. Having sat through 40 minutes of character buildup with barely any traces of threat or tension, I was wondering when the action would finally arrive. It’s a similar false sense of security that Australian outback horror, Wolf Creek (2005) succeeded in creating. The director’s second full feature film after the indie release of Desolation Wilderness (2011) delivers the goods in a terrifying final third act that combines subtle chills with jump out your seat shocks.
With the end of her college course, Natalie (Krista Dzialoszynski) returns to her small hometown for the 4th of July celebrations. She visits numerous friends, smokes pot with them, eats pizza and generally chats away about everyday ‘stuff’ for a large period of the movie. By using a first person perspective, we are witnessing a day in the life of Natalie. The characters that she meets are not overly interesting but are certainly not the stereotypical slasher victims that we would come to expect. This laid back atmosphere and independent style only serve to pull the rug from under our feet when the mood changes so significantly later on.
Due to a series of violent killings taking place in the town, a curfew has been called. There are small snippets of local media reports spread throughout proceedings. The younger members of the community have more important things to worry about. Natalie is home and her friends want to share a beer or two. Having left a party early when things get rowdy, a tired Natalie returns to her parent’s home and quickly falls asleep. She awakens to a thudding from downstairs. With her parents away and her brother out drinking, she investigates the noises. From the living room window she can see a man standing outside, seemingly staring at the property. After making no response to her warnings to leave, she proceeds to lock the doors while keeping tabs on his whereabouts. The stranger has no wish to leave and will proceed to spend the rest of the night terrorizing the young woman.
I’ve never warmed to the first person style of movie making. Yet Mungor has used this format to come up with something exciting, tense and surprisingly original. Whether it be a chilling moment where Natalie warns a young boy to stay in his room while his father is carved up downstairs or when she is struck by a vehicle in her bid to escape the killer, the director grabs his audience’s attention and never lets go. He even resists succumbing to cheap jump shocks and abrupt noises, albeit one or two. There is also an absence of gore and guts being splashed about. Most of the kills happen off screen with only the suggestion of what the killer is doing. Seasoned viewers of horror films will normally agree that more often that not, it is what you don’t see that scares and nauseates us the most.
The acting talent is solid for a small budget, independent production. Special mention has to be given to the actor portraying the sociopath. Although innocuous in appearance his cold smile and frenetic ramblings never fail to unsettle. At one point he leaves a knife beside the terrified and confused heroine in some sort of cruel dare for her to stop him.
Derek Mungor has created a clever and tense shocker with all the right ingredients to have you locking your doors and windows at night and then double checking them five minutes later. Thankfully the gamble of using a first person account of the events works perfectly. It bodes well for the future of the horror genre that we have talent such as Mungor coming through.