Alone with You is very much Emily Bennett’s film. She co-wrote and co-directed it with Justin Brooks and she, for all intents and purposes is the cast. She’s on screen, alone except for a couple of video calls, for the whole film.
It’s a bold move for somebody who has a few acting credits in features like House of the Witchdoctor and King of Knives but most of her acting and all of her writing/directing credits are on shorts like LVRS and Chasing Ghosts.. Did it pay off with the showcase for her talents that she was hoping for? Or is it another horrible vanity project?
Charlie (Emily Bennett) is getting the apartment ready for her girlfriend Simone’s (Emma Myles, Orange is the New Black) return from a work-related trip. However things are not going smoothly. Her friend Thea (Dora Madison, Bliss, VFW) calls to invite her out only to lecture her when she, for obvious reasons, says she’s staying home. Then her religious, and estranged, mother (Barbara Crampton, Stay Out, Stay Alive, Superhost) calls to voice disapproval of her lifestyle.
As bad as that is, things quickly get worse. Her front door becomes stuck and won’t open. And her windows have mysteriously become barred, trapping her. The lights begin to flicker and a strange voice comes through her heating vent. Worst of all, Simone hasn’t come home, and isn’t answering her phone.
Alone with You is an intensely creepy mood piece more than a straight up horror film. The film’s obvious inspirations are the effects of COVID lockdown induced cabin fever mixed with elements of Repulsion and other descent into madness films. I could also see, to a much smaller degree, elements of They Look Like People and Await Further Instructions mixed into the plot.
Emily Bennett does a great job of portraying Charlie as her state of mind starts to collapse around her. She reflects the character’s obviously troubled state while keeping the ultimate cause of it hidden for most of the film. Is this really happening or is she losing her mind? Or is there possibly another explanation entirely? As I mentioned she is on screen and alone for most of Alone with You, the film depended on her performance and she went above and beyond what was needed to sell the character and her situation.
Unfortunately, despite some tight scripting the answer to the question at the center of Alone with You does become somewhat obvious before it’s actually revealed. Given the subject matter though, it’s a sign of the film’s quality that it takes as long as it does before you can do more than guess. There were only a few ways this could, without using a cheat, end and Bennett and Brooks keep the plot twisting just enough to keep viewers guessing most of the way through.
But as an exercise in claustrophobia and paranoia it’s really hard to find much to fault about Alone with You. It makes a rather large, nicely furnished apartment feel like a prison cell, or as the film goes on, a tomb. Brooks, who was also the cinematographer, does a great job of accentuating the shadows and choosing the right angles to help make it feel like the apartment is closing in on Charlie as the film goes on. The score by Phil Mossman (The Last Son, Cop Car) does its part to maintain the film’s atmosphere as well.
For those who like slow burns and don’t mind a film that runs on atmosphere more than outright scares, Alone with You will be a perfect choice. Emily Bennett took a gamble and it paid off, she and Justin Brooks have proven themselves as filmmakers to watch.