What Keeps You Alive (2018)

What Keeps You Alive
Director: Colin Minihan
Writer: Colin Minihan
Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha MacIsaac, Joey Klein
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2018

Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are happy, in love and on their way to celebrate their first wedding anniversary at the cabin where Jackie grew up. They are planning a weekend all for themselves, but when Jackie’s childhood friend and neighbor Sarah (Martha MacIsaac) shows up with her husband Daniel (Joey Klein), things start to change. Jackie starts behaving weirdly, leaving Jules bewildered and desperate to find out what is going on.

What Keeps You Alive builds from a familiar set-up, but given that it features a queer couple, it could have done some interesting things. Unfortunately, the script is just not up for the task, leaving too many things incomprehensible to make the film work.

The film poster showing a black and white forest with a woman's face superimposed over it and another woman running through the forest, all under a pink sky.

It’s not that the film has nothing that works. There were some really nice moments like when Jackie starts singing, or the blacklight scene. They were atmospheric and tense and if the film had managed to be more consistently like that, it would have been beautiful. But unfortunately the script got in the was of that.

There were so many decisions the characters made that I could not understand at all, that I kept scratching my head at all of their behaviors. Starting with the fact that Jackie packed a black cocktail dress for a weekend getaway in the woods (which would have been absolutely negligible if it had been the only thing) to Jules turning back after she made it out and could have gone for help. Why would anybody do that? WHY?

Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen in the film.

But it wasn’t just the characters’ decisions that don’t work, even though that was the biggest issue. The given explanations for… anything, really, are confusing and conflict with each other and just don’t make sense if you think about it. Plus – and maybe that was an editing problem, maybe they cut a few scenes – some things really came out of nowhere, like the idea that Jackie was doing it for the money, and then she didn’t do it for the money anyway; or the resentful question of “why aren’t you a doctor?” put to Jules.

I think if the script had gone through a few more editing rounds, the film could have been something, although I don’t know if Anderson is really up to the task to play this character (she wasn’t really here, but that may be because of the script’s weaknesses). But the script used was obviously not ready for being filmed, resulting in a film that just doesn’t come together.

Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen in the film.

Summarizing: there’s potential, but it isn’t fulfilled.

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