In some ways, Alone with You opens like a romantic comedy. Charlie (Emily Bennett, also co-director/co-writer) is giddily waiting for her photographer girlfriend to return from a shoot, looking forward to celebrating their anniversary. As she cleans up their apartment and gets ready for her arrival, things start seeming amiss. Clocks stop working, and the windows look to have been draped with black bags. The front door is stuck, and while Charlie sees shadows through the spyhole, they take no notice of her. Charlie is isolated in her apartment, stuck with her fears, insecurities, and a growing feeling that somebody or something is playing a game with her.
Alone with You is what one charitably can call “wildly inconsistent.” I have a certain affinity for films set in a dwelling from which the protagonist can’t escape, and that aspect generally works here. Stopped clocks, a void outside the window, and a neighbor only heard but not seen—all creepy stuff. Even the feeling of isolation when Charlie fruitlessly calls Simone yet has no issues getting through to her friend, Thea (Dora Madison—an OSC favorite from Bliss and VFW) hits well. Alone with You has an eerie vibe.
Where it goes wrong—and substantially so—is in the actual narrative. I am all about a good mind bender—it’s a category here for a reason—but for it to work, there needs to be something, anything to hold onto. David Lynch’s Inland Empire might not be easy to wrap one’s mind around, but I feel like I have an idea of what I’m looking at on a visceral level. With Alone with You? The ingredients are there, but good as they are by themselves, the cake never gets properly baked.
Now, under the surface, there are themes of loneliness and isolation, many of which mirror back to the COVID-lockdown days. Most can at least empathize with that, and it adds to the general feeling of dread, but for it to fully work, there needs to be more of a coherent base story. Nothing needs to be spelled out—just give me something to hang onto.
Still, it’s hard to fault Emily Bennett, who puts on a laudable performance alone on the screen for the majority of the movie. And Barbara Crampton makes for a deliciously overbearing mother in what is an extended cameo. There are plenty of things to like about Alone with You, and while the execution isn’t what I would have hoped for, I still recommend watching it. If nothing else, you’ll get a couple of good scares in. All of it far from being anything from a romcom.
Letterboxd summary: As a young woman painstakingly prepares a romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, their apartment begins to feel more like a tomb when voices, shadows, and hallucinations reveal a truth she has been unwilling to face.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||3/6|