You Won’t Be Alone

Although it could be categorized as "folk horror", You Won't Be Alone is maybe 10% horror movie – there's a little blood and violence, but no suspense or jump scares – and 90% Terrence Malick knockoff. I still liked it, though.

Set in 19th century Macedonia, You Won't Be Alone opens with a farmer's widow begging a witch to spare her baby girl. Said witch, ancient and naked and scarred like Freddy Krueger, is really more like a vampire – known by the villagers as a "wolf-eateress" (so read the subtitles; all the dialogue is in Macedonian), she doesn't cast spells, but she can shape-shift, and she needs to feed on the blood of animals (including humans) from time to time. She agrees to leave the girl alone for 16 years, after which the mother hides the girl in a cave. Apparently 16 years later, the witch kills the mother and makes the girl her protégé. Soon, however, they go their separate ways, and the girl, now a witch herself, infiltrates a small village – taking over one body at a time – in order to learn what it means to be a human woman.

It's an odd film, to be sure. Its central character speaks only in voiceover, her lips brushing the microphone, as in person she is incapable of speech – even when she's living in someone else's body. (This might be a conceit to justify the casting of Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, playing one of the girl's victims/hosts, who surely doesn't speak Macedonian. As the only name in the cast, she might have been hired to secure financing.) The magic hour lighting and sometimes frenetic handheld camerawork vary between gorgeous and irritating. There's a fairly obvious feminist tone – writer/director Stolevski, who grew up in Australia, is male – that slowly becomes something more humanistic. In the end, You Won't Be Alone has something to say about the ineffable joy of being alive, despite all the cruelties and hardships in the world, that's faintly poignant. As I said, I liked the film. But I have no strong interest in seeing it again.