Fantastic Fest Review: Justin Brooks and Emily Bennett’s ‘Alone With You’
One location films can be tricky to pull off, so it’s always interesting to see how complex the premise dares to be and if it manages to successfully deliver on it; Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks have opted for a highly minimalist effort on the production side with their debut feature Alone With You. Starring Bennett (The Blacklist, Chicago Fire) herself in the lead role as a young woman named Charlie, a makeup artist living in New York, the film is centered around her character and only leaves the apartment via flashback sequences. Charlie is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her girlfriend (Emma Myles, Orange is the New Black) one evening when she starts noticing strange occurrences around her residence. She continues to grow more and more worried as her significant other doesn’t arrive and isn’t answering her phone, so these oddities among other small issues that pop up only add to her rising stress level.
It’s in the surreal narrative delivery that heightens across the film’s eighty-three minute runtime where the filmmakers’ real ambitions lie. Noises, hallucinations, and voices are only the beginning of Charlie’s madness filled descent towards the truth that’s represented in a myriad of ways on screen. These various methods don’t always work as intended, often times leaving the viewer with more questions than answers but they’re executed in interestingly thoughtful ways so the film manages to remain engaging throughout. The inclusion of some well-liked talent definitely elevates the experience, featuring supporting roles by the always excellent Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, Jakob’s Wife) as Charlie’s religiously devout mother who doesn’t approve of her lifestyle in addition to Dora Madison (Bliss, VFW) as Charlie’s foul-mouthed, hard-partying friend Thea. These two characters are only ever seen for a few minutes at a time through the screens of electronic devices within the film, but both play a large role in shaping how the narrative unfolds.
The conclusion will leave most viewers searching for clarity and wishing things had been delivered in a more straightforward way though the filmmakers do a great job at capitalizing on the limited space, using it to create a sense of paranoia for the viewer that parallels the one Charlie has on screen. The sound design adds tremendously to this, especially in the first two acts where the slight sounds and whispers feed very well into the aforementioned paranoia the small space fosters. These ingredients are all used to represent the inner workings of Charlie’s troubled mind, and despite the mixed results Alone With You is a feature that brings a lot of interesting themes to the surface as well as gives the viewer a glimpse at the likely promising future this directing duo has in the industry. Dark Star Pictures has secured domestic distribution rights and is aiming for a limited theatrical release in early 2022 followed shortly after by a digital release, which the details of will be added here as they become available.