Horrible Imaginings Film Festival has a collection of horror shorts and features of every variety this year. One such horror film, IT KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE, written and directed by Chris Alexander, channels the psychedelic oddity of forerunners like Rod Serling’s post-The Twilight Zone sophomore series, Night Gallery. At just over 50 minutes in length, the film is about Natalie (Bee Dawley), who lives in seclusion among her antique collection in her home by the beach. When she brings home a nautical phone she discovers washed up on the beach, a ghostly woman in black comes along, and nightmares ensue. Despite the premise’s promise, the use of color, headache-inducing sound effects, and more comical than petrifying acting create a lackluster mix rendering the movie forgettable.
Thanks to the moving music at the outset, the start is hopeful; however, the film doesn’t elevate beyond the aspiring opening. It kept going downhill from there. It’s clear by the end what is occurring; however, most of what it takes to get there lacks terror. The colors and arthouse style of showing images—the beach, a ship, etc.—saturated in colors bleeding across the screen raises irritation instead of fear. There’s too much of it, and even shots without said spillage of colors looked like scary Instagram filters brought out for Halloween.
The acting is abysmal between the only two people on screen. I love that IT KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE has queer representation with Natalie and her ex-partner, but their chemistry is as flat as a ship’s deck. Both appear to be just spouting lines instead of living in the moment and emotions of their characters. The only possible moments that had a smidge of terror, but a lot of hilarity, come from Natalie’s facial expressions when something scary occurs. Her mouth agape terror-stricken face had the potential for fear in a scene or two.
The editing and directing add to the confusion. Do you know how someone says something or behaves a certain way because they seek a specific response? Like when a person sighs deeply, so someone will ask them what’s wrong? The directing feels like that. As I watched events unfold or saw a shot of a creepy old doll, rather than feeling scared, I thought, “this is where they want me to be scared.” The film does not do enough to draw viewers into this world. The editing does not help us to immerse ourselves, and we consciously sit separately from the story.
Drawing inspiration from prior films and shows of yore makes sense. Unfortunately, IT KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE taps into the worst parts of those rather than creating something unique that stands out in some fashion while paying homage to its predecessors. Had they taken a less is more approach; perhaps the film could have been salvaged. But like Natalie probably wishes that nautical phone hadn’t washed ashore, we wish this film hadn’t risen to the surface.