When I heard there was going to be a new movie about witchcraft, I was, as usual, a little dubious. Hollywood can range from amazing films that capture the pagan spirit like The Craft, Midsommar, or The Witch; but there’s also a good chance we’ll get something exploitative like The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It or Ouija. I’ve written before about the experience of existing as both a horror fan and a witch, and there’s always a fraught moment before the film begins where I wonder how I’ll feel later once the story is told. Thankfully, director Goran Stolevski leaned heavily into folklore and the weird with You Won’t Be Alone, the lastest from Focus Features. It’s an intriguing dark fantasy film that pulls on myth without painting the subjects in question as paper-thin antagonists.
You Won’t Be Alone somehow manages to combine weird horror fiction with dark fantasy into something that feels fully immersive and creepily relatable. If you can imagine Interview with the Vampire crossed with The Company of Wolves with pinches of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Guillermo del Toro’s aesthetic, you can envision the vibe of this film. It’s definitely worth seeing, and most definitely worth discussing.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Firstly, the witchcraft referenced in this movie is both very old and very much against the Hollywood stereotype. There’s lovely shots that harken to the old witchcraft idea of the wild woman existing beyond social control, and the feral child raised by nature. Both have a long history in folklore, often as a direct critique of marginalized peoples in society but also, sometimes, as rationale for maintaining that marginalization.
When the protagonist in You Won’t Be Alone begins, she is an infant plucked from the pipeline toward traditional womanhood and expected gender roles. The film explores this notion of the feral child torn between humanity and her grotesque powers. Her mentor seems dead-set on the notion that they are evil by nature, but our protagonist isn’t so certain. In the process of self discovery, she lives as men, women, and even a dog. It’s a unique study in gender, disability, sex, and the societal expectations that accompany each.
Overall, this is definitely a film I plan to dissect in more depth in the future. Which means it’s really imaginative and engaging. I highly recommend it. If you enjoy existential horror that questions the nature of humankind, good and evil, and the purpose of life, this is definitely one that’ll send you down some dark, creepy paths.