Genre : Thriller; Horror
Director : Colin Minihan
Platform : Netflix
What Keeps You Alive starts with the perfect set-up for a thriller-horror movie. It has dense forest with trees covering the sky. We see wilderness, a deep lake and an old house. But is it able to take forward this setting and give us an edge-of-seat experience?
It is a story about Jules and Jackie, a couple who have come to this cottage to celebrate their marriage anniversary. Everything seems pleasant until one night when Jackie’s friend arrive at their cottage. Suspicions, sinister past and secrets arise destroying the couple’s lives.
The best and the most appealing part of the movie is the camera work and direction. When one of the characters is bleeding and questioning her past, the direction makes us feel the dizziness the character is facing. Even initially when we see Jules jogging, the camera swipes past her and it feels as if we are jogging with her.
Around 15-20 minutes in the movie there is a plot-twist. It isn’t a perfectly executed scene, still we think that it didn’t happen and wish for it being a dream. But it is not. We feel devastated.
The screenplay is mostly dependent on the backdrop and snippets of blood and gore, other times it is just bland. As we progress we start to question the stupid decisions taken by the protagonist. What follows is more stupid decisions. At first I felt a person in such situation may tend to take actions that aren’t well thought but given the chance of running away, the character brings herself back to lion’s den which is a bit illogical. People who are looking to watch it for the slasher element, will be happy and sad at the same time. Happy for the reason that at a particular point there is immense blood and gore. But the sad part is that it is takes place for a short interval of time. Overall, the pain and injuries gives you more gasps than the screenplay and its twists.
When we are half way through, we see the protagonist struggling and unable to escape. Moreover, the killer is powerful and kills people without much effort. This is a characteristic of slashers and this premise makes a typical slasher movie even more appealing. However, What Keeps You Alive isn’t able to develop the story after this point. The story delves into a territory which extinguishes the suspense and we stop bothering about the fact that whether the protagonist will survive or not.
We also get to see the thought process and the backstory of the killer. More attention is given on the killer, which is not done in majority of the slasher movies. I also like the way the title of the movie is explained. The story behind the title makes us realise how we tend to take the meaning of a word or sentence in a particular way when it means otherwise.
In the end, I kept hoping for a major revelation which would make up for the collapsing screenplay in the middle. Though there is one revelation, it is dull and weak. We also see some cliché scenes where the protagonist plays loud music and loads her gun for revenge. Given the context, it is just ridiculous. In conclusion, if you are craving for a horror thriller with less action and tragedy, the movie is for you.
An Indian reviewer who writes about horror and thriller movies/series. If not movies, he likes to pick up a mystery book to read. Some of his favourite movies/series include Stranger Things, Elite (S1-3), Train to Busan, Andhadhun, Strangers: Prey at Night.