YOU ARE NOT ALONE (2010)
aka House Swap
Written and directed by Mark Ezra
An American couple enter a house swap for 6 months, swapping their LA home for a tudor mansion set in the sprawling countryside of Glastonbury, Somerset in England. Hoping that the relaxing, quaint landscapes will give them both inspiration – Matt for his screenplay and Ginny for her music composition – the couple settle into their new abode. However, it’s not long before the couple are plagued by sets of weird incidents and noises in the home. With the home’s owners not interested and the police unprepared to investigate, Matt takes it into his own hands to protect himself and his girlfriend.
Touted as a ‘true story’, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, also known as House Swap, is a found footage horror thriller that tells the story of the couple’s visit to England and subsequent stay at the mansion through a video diary. I don’t know how many people would document their day to day lives, but in a time and age of internet celebrities, particularly through YouTube, maybe this is more current now than it would have been in the past. The couple, Matt and Ginny, are a young, care-free couple who are both artists in their own right. Initially unsure about the house swap, they are relieved to find the house they traded for is an impressive, huge abode, with spacious rooms and decorated from top to bottom in tacky antiques. Despite the grand home, an incident which occurs during their initial arrival, out in the Glastonbury fields, would be enough to put anybody off, but is forgotten about as quickly as it happens as the couple settle into the new home. For something as frightening as which occurred, I do not understand how this wasn’t persued by the characters. However, the couple soon find other things to concern them as bumps in the night occur along with belongings going missing and human excrement appearing on the floor whilst they’re out. Nice! Despite all of this, the couple continue to stay at the mansion, with the intensity and frequency of the strange occurances increasing day by day.
With such an insular film, supposedly shot by the leading characters, the actors must be up to the job. Whilst they can carry the story to a point, the acting floats from hit to miss, with the cast able to deal with the normal scenes well but struggle with the frightening ones, with their reactions and emotions coming off as unconvincing. The lack of menace from the antagonist of the film doesn’t help matters either. The script suffers too, leaving a hollow storyline with a plot that drags its feet until the unsatisying climax.
Despite its best intentions, YOU ARE NOT ALONE is just too slow a movie, with very little happening to keep the viewer engaged. Whilst clever use of the camera whilst out and about seeing the sights are used, the footage isn’t really capitalised on in ways it could be. Instead, it’s used just enough to conveniently wrap up the source of a problem.
Lacking charisma and conviction, YOU ARE NOT ALONE struggles to hit the high notes of other found-footage flicks.