Pin It
Favorite

You Won't Be Alone offers philosophical folk horror 

In his feature-length debut, writer-director Goran Stolevski helms this horror story set in a secluded 19th century Macedonian mountain village. An infant named Nevena is promised to Maria (Anamaria Marinca), a "wolfeateress" witch, upon the child's 16th birthday. Hoping to protect her daughter from her fate, her mother (Irena Risti) locks her in a grotto, leaving her to turn nearly feral from the isolation. The plan fails and the witch returns to claim the young woman (Sara Klimoska), turning her into a witch and teaching her how to inhabit the bodies of her victims. Fascinated about the human life she was denied, the new witch inhabits a series of people, learning what it means to be human. (in old Macedonian; 108 min.)

click to enlarge INSIDE OUT Noomi Repace stars as Bosilka, one of several 19th century Macedonian villagers serially inhabited by a witch called Nevena, in writer-director Goran Stolevski's unsettling new horror film, You Won't Be Alone. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAUSEWAY FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Causeway Films
  • INSIDE OUT Noomi Repace stars as Bosilka, one of several 19th century Macedonian villagers serially inhabited by a witch called Nevena, in writer-director Goran Stolevski's unsettling new horror film, You Won't Be Alone.
splitscreen.png

Glen Stolevski is surely a student of Terrance Malick's films. He approaches this story in the same meandering way, with close-ups of faces, a deep fascination and examination of the natural world, and a Mark Bradshaw soundtrack that sounds like the atmospheric music Malick would use. Even though this is billed as a horror film and includes some very grisly gore, this is a meditation on what it means to be human, societal gender roles, and the rewards of being moral. When Nevena inhabits Bosilka (Noomi Repace), she discovers women's second-class status, inhabiting a man she learns of toxic male preference, and as a young girl she learns of parental love. Maria thought she had bargained for a companion, but Nevena lacks the old witch's bitterness and is a disappointment to her. Maria also wonders at Nevena's ability to inhabit humans without being discovered as an imposter—something she tried but clearly couldn't do. This is a different sort of horror film from the typical. For comparison's sake, think Lars von Trier's Antichrist 2009), Robert Eggers' The Witch (2015), or Ari Aster's Hereditary (2018) or Midsommar (2019). It's not going to appeal to everyone, but I found it fascinating and beautifully crafted.

Anna The language and translation is also really interesting. Narrated by Nevena—who is mute after Maria takes her tongue as a baby—it's lyrical and poetic, like water washing over pebbles and roots down a meandering stream. It offers a fascinating perspective on the world from someone who was denied it. The film is gruesome and visceral in many moments—I definitely covered my eyes in a few scenes of animal slaughter—but certainly a different kind of horror film nonetheless. When Nevena sees how Maria shape-shifts, she realizes that there's opportunity for her to experience life not as an exile, but as part of a community. The brutality of society is at times just as ugly as Maria's wretched soul, but Nevena manages to learn through all of it—both the pleasantries of life and the incredible pain humanity holds as well. Later in the film we learn how Maria came to be in the form she is now—a monstrous creature full of vindictive jealousy. She can't understand why the world has accepted Nevena in her various forms, and she is determined to ruin any and every life Nevena tries to lead besides one as an outcast like Maria. This may be one of those films that's "a little too weird" for some, but I'm with you. I thought it was wonderfully executed.

Glen Maria is positively loathsome, and even after we learn of her backstory, I still couldn't conjure much empathy. She's mean to the bone. Nevena, on the other hand, even though she's killing people, is very worthy of empathy. The reason she can pass as a human is because somewhere inside her humanity still exists. The film's title is fitting. Maria is cursed to walk the world alone because she's unworthy of companionship. She has nothing to give but desolation. Through inhabiting others, Nevena learns to love, and in doing so, she earns the joy of fellowship. The film closes with a heart-tugging jolt and maybe a small hope that Maria's cruel legacy may come to a close.

Anna While Maria seems to kill for the joy of it, Nevena stumbles into the bodies she inhabits out of self-preservation and accidents. She isn't cruel for the sake of cruelty like Maria, instead soft and childlike in her core. While her mother may have been trying to protect her, the damages of Nevena's isolation leave her vulnerable and scared. All she wants is a chance to live life again in a way that bonds her to those around her, but Maria can't stand the idea of Nevena's happiness. She's evil through and through, a very easy villain to hate. It's just a haunting tale overall. If you enjoyed the films Glen mentioned above, catch this one at the Palm—it is well worth a watch. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

Tags:

Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Search, Find, Enjoy

Submit an event

Trending Now

© 2022 New Times San Luis Obispo
Powered by Foundation