What Keeps You Alive (2018) Review
“There’s a demon inside”
Synopsis: Majestic mountains, a still lake and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
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Despite its solid cast and excellent cinematography, What Keeps You Alive is an extended exercise in missed opportunities. The movie takes a standard storyline – a loved one hiding frightening secrets – and goes nowhere with it. Though Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen do well with what material they had, the movie never allows them to rise above and truly deliver on the horror of this psychological thriller.
After watching the trailer, I hoped that I hadn’t just had the movie ruined for me. Turns out, the trailer doesn’t really provide any spoilers, because there’s nothing to spoil. One character’s psychopathy is never really in question, and the red flags come early and often in the first half hour of the movie. Not only was the premise never really in doubt, but there were no twists and only one minor surprise toward the end. I kept thinking, “Surely this can’t be all there is to this plot.” (It was.) I was always acutely aware of how much better the movie could have been with better writers, which soured a lot of my enjoyment. Even plot devices which might have worked – repeated references to one particular idyllic moment, for instance, which only later is revealed in its full meaning – are never fully developed.
By far the best part of this psychological thriller is the cinematography. Yes, the setting is beautiful, but what’s more impressive is what’s done with it. There are several shots I can still see in my mind’s eye, and one of the last moments of the film is more honestly horrifying than 90% of movies I’ve seen in the last few years because of one particular shot. (There’s also a brief interlude in blacklight – which, while it doesn’t really go with the rest of the movie, is gorgeous.)
Even with its positives, it’s hard to recommend What Keeps You Alive. The simplistic story takes an additional knock about 3/4 of the way through the movie, eschewing what seems like the obvious ending for one that makes very little sense. It’s frustrating rather than compelling, and offers none of the satisfaction a good movie should provide. Unless you’re more interested in the art of movies than the story, this isn’t a solid offering for your next movie night.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B-
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