dir: Goran Stolevski
Such a title, a phrase, like “you won’t be alone”, it can sound like reassurance, like trying to comfort someone who’s afraid of abandonment, of loneliness, that they won’t be as alone as they fear.
It also, unfortunately, sounds like a promise that’s more of a dark threat: You won’t be alone because I’ll always be around, making sure nothing goes right in your life, and that every time you get close to people, I’ll be there to snuff them out.
It is referred to as a horror film, but “horror” doesn’t really capture what this flick is about. It’s not trying to horrify or scare audiences. Horrible things do happen, but the horror isn’t the point.
In weird ways this is more like a micro-budget Terrence Malick flick with 1 per cent of the budget and 200 per cent of the ambition. There’s a lot told to us in whispered voiceover, because the main character cannot speak for herself. She never speaks for herself out loud, regardless of what form she’s in.
Even though I push back on the genre designation of “horror” in order to avoid pigeon-holing the flick, everything I’m going to write now is going to contradict that assertion.
In some non-descript peasant village in what these days is called Macedonia, but about 200 years ago, a young peasant mother is confronted by a strange sight: a blistered, tormented figure who wants to drink her crying newborn’s blood. This is a monster out of local myth, appearing to this woman, for reals, and all she can think to do is bargain for her child’s life.
This monster, though, who is known by one derisive name (Old Maid Maria), and one descriptor (Wolf-Eateress), sounds like she’s going to be bound by some kind of Rumpelstiltskin-type bullshit, but she really isn’t. And though she agrees to spare the child until she is 16, she commits the first of many horrors by stealing the girl’s voice. Permanently.
The mother, not being very bright, thinks to protect this child by shutting it in a cave, where it pretty much seems to grow alone, neglected, unloved and unmissed by anyone.