What Keeps You Alive almost had the confidence in it’s premise to pull it off.
Married couple Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen – It Stains the Sands Red), venture out to Jackie’s childhood cabin for a relaxing holiday. With but another couple on the other side of the lake, after about 20 minutes of quiet foreboding What Keeps You Alive takes a shocking about-turn.
Without revealing spoilers or anything for that matter which takes place following this juncture, What Keeps You Alive depends and thrives off the charisma of it’s two leads and their abundantly well-drawn characters. The same cannot be said for the other two mainstays of the film and largely nothing figures in the nice house across the way, one of whom is distractingly and without fail always, always holding a glass or bottle of wine.
A shocker and suspense thriller rather than straight horror – Anderson above all is engrossing, inhabiting her chiefly complex character with welcome aplomb. Traversing material that could easily have come across as unconvincing in the hands of a lesser performer, the actress notably carries the film’s best and markedly memorable scenes, among them the most intense rowboat sequence ever likely seen since A Place in the Sun.
The haunting woods surrounding the lake used to shocking if seldom effect in more than one hurried chase, What Keeps You Alive abruptly and ever so greatly errs in it’s final act. A 98-minute film that should have been 78 minutes, there is a cathartic, supremely affecting moment following a concluding note which could just as well have been the end of the movie. Instead following a mother of all “what are you doing?!” bad horror movie choices, the extended finale leads to a nonsensical set piece signalling a shift from that which was otherwise shrewd and in keeping with the film’s hitherto dogged tone.
Proving less is sometimes more, What Keeps You Alive remains regardless an enjoyable ride for the fright fanatics out there.
What Keeps You Alive screened as part of the Sydney Film Festival