What Keeps You Alive, 2018.
Directed by Colin Minihan.
Starring Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, and Martha MacIsaac.
Jackie and Jules attempt to celebrate their one year anniversary in the wild woods and mountainous countryside of Jackie’s family holiday home.
Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are a happily married couple keen to get away on holiday to celebrate their one year wedding anniversary. Their choice of destination is the wood cabin that was once a holiday home of Jackie’s family. It’s a beautiful but imposing place deep in the Canadian countryside, with perilous heights and low valleys and wide lakes and rushing waterfalls. The power and majesty of the place is well captured in this gripping and tense thriller.
From the very start things are somewhat strange. Jackie stares intently into the trees almost as soon as they get there. The rustic home has an otherworldly feel about it, only heightened by Jackie’s strange post-dinner trance like song on the guitar. From then on, mysteries are hinted at and alluded to, but to say much more would spoil the effect of what happens for the rest of the film. Suffice to say, it is a genuine surprise and not really expected at all.
Director and writer Colin Minihan delivers an excellent genre film exploring betrayal and trust issues in relationships set against the power of nature. As an exercise in paranoia and tension it deserves high praise. Even in the more grueling segments there is never the sense that the effects are gratuitous or uncalled for. It is an impressive film in many ways. Two strong performances and two good support actors make the whole believable even in its wildest parts. The cinematography also plays an important role lingering on the majesty of the woods and the darker side of nature, reflected in the more troubling aspects of human behavior.
It is a creeping intense psychological horror, with a lot to say about relationships and how much we can really know about another. The question of what is acceptable in loving partnerships is also asked and the whole project deserves credit for being more complex than the majority of horror holidays in the great outdoors flicks. Without saying anymore, just check it out for a quality surprise of high drama and tension.
What Keeps You Alive arrives in U.S. cinemas and on VOD from August 24th.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.