Alone with You
by Hope Madden
A surreal meditation on emotionally abusive relationships, Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks’s Alone with You brings eerie new meaning to lockdown.
Co-writer/co-director Bennett also stars as Charlie, a woman eagerly waiting for her lover Simone (Emma Myles) to return from a trip. It’s their first anniversary and Charlie would like it to be special.
What transpires never has two people in the same room, is set almost exclusively in one apartment, utilizes multiple device screens, and somehow pulls it off as not a Covid necessity but an effective way to create tension.
As Simone is later and later, Charlie finds herself stuck in the apartment. Literally stuck – the door is jammed. And though she’s able to raise her mother (Barbara Crampton) and her best friend (Dora Madison), neither will really follow the conversation and help her out.
Bizarre noises, missing objects, and creepy goings on all build a potent sense of foreboding. The allure of the film is this tension and the way Brooks and Bennett weave in surreal flourishes to give the piece a macabre quality.
But the reason it works as well as it does is because Alone with You becomes a cagey allegory. The film taps the horror of unhealthy relationships, but it also works that nerve of being trapped in the damn house—as we all have been.
In much the same way Sean King O’Grady’s We Need to Do Something picked that Covid scab with a family stuck in a bathroom together, Alone with You recalls the almost desperate desire to get out.
Each actor on screen does a credible job of interacting with tech. This can be a tough sell, but Bennett and the small cast all make it work. Crampton is a particular joy as Charlie’s judgy mom. She veers from nitpicky to loving to critical to nightmarish in the span of a single, beautifully crafted scene.
Even at a slight 83 minutes, though, Alone with You feels a little bloated. But the mystery at work binds with a horrifying sense of familiarity to manufacture enough scares to keep you guessing.