A couple slipping off for a romantic vacation at an old family home, only to have it ruined by unexpected revelations and dark secrets. It’s a staple of both supernatural horror and reality-based thrillers. WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE lets Colin Minihan, (GRAVE ENCOUNTERS, IT STAINS THE SANDS RED), put his spin on this setup.
Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson THE PURGE, JIGSAW) and Jules (Brittany Allen JIGSAW, GIRL IN THE BOX) are celebrating their first wedding anniversary at an isolated house belonging to Jackie’s family, a house Jules never knew about. More surprises are in store when a neighbor drops by and calls Jackie “Megan”. A couple of revelations later it becomes obvious that Jackie is hiding a past identity. And that will soon become a matter of life and death for all involved.
It starts out as a slow burn thriller with suspicions raised and explained away as tensions begin to rise. Then WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE takes a very sudden and unexpected turn into survival horror mode. It’s a very successful transition and initially, it keeps up the suspense, albeit for different reasons.
Still, Minihan should have held off a bit longer and built up a bit more backstory. Jackie is too much of a psycho just for the sake of it. There’s no real explanation or reason for it. That kind of approach might work in a film like HALLOWEEN where the killer is a silent killing machine with no personality at all. But here it leaves an incomplete character and too many unanswered questions. Added to some stupid and illogical actions from both women and an entirely predictable ending. Even the final twist is telegraphed.
Minihan has proven himself a talented filmmaker, but here he fumbles the ball badly. He relies too much on gimmicky camerawork and the novelty of the couple being lesbians rather than a traditional male/female pairing. The film has its moments, but the script really needed another draft or two before it was ready to shoot. It’s one of the bigger disappointments I’ve had this year. It wastes not only his talent but great performances by the two leads and some beautiful Canadian wilderness locations.
IFC Midnight will release WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE to VOD and in select theaters on August 24th.