‘You Wont Be Alone’ Is a Gory, Gorgeous Sundance Horror Hit About a Body-Swapping Witch

A strange kind of poetry lies in the bloody and scratched heart of Goran Stolevski You won’t be alone.

A folk horror film about a young witch, premiering Saturday at Sundance Film Festival 2022, played out in snappy language and cautious gestures punctuated by stern slaps — the kind of callousness that can make the world feel like a barren, unfinished pit. But as our talented protagonist escapes the desperate grasp of two overbearing, belligerent mothers to swap bodies for different ways of life, her jumbled words take on a certain quality. certain lyricism. Contradictions run the course of this wonderfully bloody film, its pulse beating through the repetition of two words: However, not yet, and but…

We first meet our “chosen” young witch, Nevena, as an infant in 19th-century Macedonia, whose mother is frantically begging a burned witch trying to bring she goes. Carry the burden of parenting and providing it all is different Infants in the village were not allowed to work, so Nevena’s mother made another offer to Old Maid Maria: If the witch let her raise the child, she could adopt him when he became a teenager. year. That way, she reasoned, the witch wouldn’t be alone in her old age.

After an inevitable oath, Nevena’s mother buried her child in a “sacred” cave where witches couldn’t find her, leaving the child to look up at the sky through a pair of holes in the ceiling. rock above. Next, we’ll see Nevena as a teenager (played by Sara Klimoska) who has grown up in solitude, saving for her mother’s visits. Limited speech ability, strange movements and stunted growth. She doesn’t speak loudly, but her inner monologue will narrate the film.

By the time we meet Nevena as a teenager, her mother’s protection has turned into a kind of overbearing terror that explodes whenever her “stupid” girl tries to leave the cave. dynamic – the kind of love that is more oppressive and scarier than it nourishes. It didn’t take long, however, before Old Maid Maria appeared to gather her chosen children—replacing Nevena’s isolation and emotional hunger with another kind of malicious association.

At first, it’s unclear what Old Maid Maria suffered in life, but in death she was ruthless and demanding. She couldn’t stand the fact that her daughter would rather play with a rabbit than kill it for its blood, and she ended up throwing it away in great disappointment. That’s when the movie begins to unravel, as Nevena begins to explore the world on her own terms.

Barren caves give way to lush forests and mile-long fields, to villages full of active families unlike anything Nevena has experienced before. Her first stumbling blocks during this puzzling vast period of time chronicles that precarious period of life when a person begins to question their upbringing and wonder what they can do. something else.

Klimoska embodies the hallmarks of youth in her performance — deadly eyes resting on fragile hands that quiver with delight at everything they touch. Her voice is something of a mix between a mumble and a whisper – a sleepy confessional tone that showcases the character’s feverish curiosity.

Before long, Nevena learned how to swap bodies with the dead — a grotesquely grotesque process that involved gouging out certain organs and hiding them in her own chest. She does so over and over, each time turning a brief window into another vantage point in life. (And not just humans.)

Perhaps the most form-shifting occurred when Nevena took over Bosilka’s body (Noomi Rapace), a mother she observes giving birth.

Bosilka’s village could immediately tell that something had changed – especially because she was suddenly mute – but they assumed it was the result of her husband’s abuse, at least at the time. head. Rapace’s turn as Nevena is revealed both in terms of performance and narrative scope; she blooms among the women of the village but observes that among men, women must become loose – that is, kept silent in the hand like stew in a bowl. This is Nevena’s first public exploration, and Rapace plays a character that is both unsettling and unsettling, a collage of fragile glances and awkward attempts at connection. Her grin revealed rotting teeth.

Rapace’s turn as Nevena is revealed both in terms of performance and narrative scope; she blooms among the women of the village but observes that among men, women must become loose – that is, kept silent in the hand like stew in a bowl.

Old Maid Maria haunts her stolen daughter for the rest of her life, causing her to become suspicious and sever all attempts to find happiness with bitter questions like, “Do you think you’re the only one?” first try this?” As desperate as she was to be a mother, the old witch couldn’t get over her anger.

Stolevski’s lens, too, is addicted to contradiction; The lush setting sets the stage for some the most grisly scenes, and even his close communities still exist under the specter of Turkish domination. Old Maid Maria’s rage is both personal and political, her witch’s identity a metaphor for all the usual literary and cinematic stories. And while Nevena’s narration serves as a frequent reminder of her status as “the other,” her uncanny speaking pattern sheds light on how estrangement can be timely. cultivate a deeper sense of self for those brave and curious enough to seek it out. She talks about her multiple selves in a way that resonates with anyone who must try several ways to survive — and more importantly, she’s able to recognize and manifest that kaleidoscopic nature in her own words. the others.

You won’t be alone speaks to its main passion in the title: It is an exploration of experiencing the universal paradox of feeling, in a way, alone. Old Maid Maria’s tragic backstory (which we won’t reveal here) stems from her embracing a specific, socially mandated type of solidarity – a yearning for the family unit. Tradition is the be-all and end-all of the human bond. Nevena’s biological mother, paralyzed by her overwhelming fear of loss, couldn’t see that protecting her daughter by isolating her would only create a greater loss.

With each new body she takes on in her journey, Nevena discovers another way to live with others, a new version of togetherness. Stolevski was not particularly concerned about the young witch’s early isolation; if it were him, one imagines he wouldn’t have completely ignored her childhood. Instead, he brings viewers to Nevena’s emotional reality as someone who desperately wants to understand what life can be compared to what it’s supposed to be — and the role love can play. change the boundary between the two.

Towards the end of the journey, Nevena began to ask herself another question: Is it really that simple? The connections she is able to make for each “self” are often short-lived but equally cherished; In each new body, she brings with her all of herself and the bonds she has formed along the way. It was a way of life that would have confused both of her mothers, but accepting her status as an outsider allowed Nevena to see the “other” in people. In doing so, she discovered a fundamental truth many of us still struggle to grasp our entire lives: The only way to not be alone is to feel comfortable with the fact that following a In some ways, we’re all lonely.

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