ALONE WITH YOU Review - Salem Horror Fest

In her 4.5 Bloody Knife review, Dylyn C.S. calls Alone with You a horror of queer heartache and delirium. Included in Salem Horror Fest’s virtual line-up, the film was an elegant exploration of painful self-reflection that left her feeling gutted and strangely “seen.”

Salem Horror Fest delivered a wealth of queer horror films in October 2021, including Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks merciless mind-bender Alone with You (2021), a queer horror film bound in wildflowers. Dread and anxiety build slowly as the film follows make-up artist Charlie anticipating her girlfriend Simone’s arrival home from a photography assignment. Excited to spend their anniversary together, Charlie waits ad nauseam for Simone to come home only to be left alone in their desolate apartment. “Alone,” however, may be a grave misnomer for Charlie as gut-churning sounds begin to fill their home. Worse still, Charlie discovers she is locked inside with no promise of help. Echoing the despondence of Mulholland Drive (2001), Alone With You explores the horror of queer heartache and delirium. Its elegant exploration of painful self-reflection left me feeling gutted and strangely “seen.”

The film stars co-director Emily Bennett (King of Knives) as Charlie, whose horror short Bed also appeared in the fest’s virtual line-up. Additionally, Emma Myles (Orange is the New Black) plays Charlie’s elusive camera-wielding girlfriend Simone with Dora Madison (VFW) as the couple’s mutual “friend” Thea. Much to my delight and surprise, horror icon Barbara Crampton (From Beyond, Re-Animator) makes an appearance in the film as well, playing the role of Charlie’s virulently Christian mother. Haunting the screen with her venomous performance, Crampton’s part of the film made Alone with You one of the most terrifying films I’ve seen in a long time.

While the film is Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks first feature-length production both cumulatively and individually, it’s safe to say each director has secured a lifelong admirer in me. With its enthralling set and sound design, imaginative cinematography, and nightmarish atmosphere, Alone with You masterfully twists the confines of space and time and is reminiscent of other surreal horrors like 1408 (2007), YellowBrickRoad (2010) and Scenic Route (2013). Also mirroring the claustrophobic dread in video game Silent Hill 4: The Room, the experience is cruelly immersive especially without that grounding element of control. Dissimilar to the grittiness of the game, however, the atmosphere strikes a chord of unease through high art and a delicate bouquet of wildflowers. As in one of my favorite novels, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, there’s an uncanniness in this film which hopelessly replaces the traditional haven of home.

Alone with You, left on me the most resonant mark of all the films I screened during Salem Horror Fest. As a queer fan of both spatial and auditory horror, I’m rarely so spoiled as to have all of my horror prayers answered in a single film experience. Even more, the way in which the film examined the inexplicable nature of hard emotions was starkly relatable even amidst the warped reality. While the film felt a bit slower than I’d have liked at times and was occasionally difficult to understand, it cut very deep, especially given my own often-complicated feelings. In my endless quest for more queer horror, I am so grateful to have found this imaginative stroke of genius.


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