SXSW 2018: What Keeps You Alive Review – Marriage Can Be Hell
Starring Brittany Allen, Hannah Emily Anderson, Martha MacIsaac, Joey Klein
Written by Colin Minihan
Directed by Colin Minihan
How long does it take to get to truly know someone? How long does it take to fall in love and decide that you want to spend the rest of your life with another person? How long would it take for everything you’ve learned and everything you’ve known to come crashing down when the veil is pulled back to reveal a reality that you never knew existed? While these questions aren’t answered in Colin Minihan’s horror/thriller What Keeps You Alive, they will certainly stay in your mind long after the credits finish rolling.
The film follows Jules (Allen) and Jackie (Anderson), two wives celebrating their one-year anniversary, who go to Jackie’s family cabin in the middle of the woods to spend some time together. There is clearly some tension between the two, even though they both try to hide it and make the best of their time together. That is, until, Jackie pushes Jules off a cliff in an attempt to murder her. Jules, however, manages to survive and so begins the cat-and-mouse chase between the two.
Minihan has already prove that he knows how to get the most out of a sparse cast, as evidenced by It Stains the Sands Red, which also stars Allen, so it should come as no surprise that this film never falters in terms of engaging audiences. Be it the beautiful visuals of the forest or the fascinating back-and-forth between Jules and Jackie, What Keeps You Alive knows how to make the most out of every scene. Furthermore, those who like their horror movies to flow with rivulets of blood will not leave this movie disappointed as there are some decidely cringe-inducing moments.
The only major gripe I have is that What Keeps You Alive suffers from what is now know as the Return of the King syndrome, in which the movie seems to end but then keeps on going. There were a few occasions where I felt that the film could’ve stopped and had great impact. While the ending is still satisfying, it doesn’t have the same punch that other scenes, just a couple minutes prior, would’ve had.
Undeniably tense with electrifying performances from both Allen and Anderson, the movie suffers slightly from an ending that overstays its welcome. Still, What Keeps You Alive is a captivating and unsettling reminder that true love may not always be a two-way street.