As What Keeps You Alive opens, Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are celebrating their one-year anniversary with a secluded getaway to a lakeside house that has been in Jackie’s family for years. The two radiate that newlywed glow and always seem happy to just be in each other’s presence. When an old friend of Jackie’s shows up at their front door, Jules begins to learn more about her wife and the tone of their vacation drastically changes.
That’s it. That’s all I’m going to say because the twists come early and continue as the movie progresses.
“…an old friend shows up at their front door, Jules begins to learn more about her wife…”
A lot of What Keeps You Alive is familiar territory, starting with the cabin in the woods conceit, which makes it hard for anyone to escape easily. Right from the beginning, What Keeps You Alive introduces manufactured situations, like Jackie’s friend emerging from the dark in the middle of a rainy night to set the plot in motion, which feel so forced as a necessary tool to keep things going. Once they get going, however, the movie offers modest – but gnarly – pleasures.
Directed by Colin Minihan, What Keeps You Alive is an exercise in extreme style and visual trickery in the hopes of keeping the tension high. He isn’t subtle when dropping clues, cutting to an object more than a couple times as to warn us this will be important at some point. Working from his own script, the movie deserves some credit for not always arriving and the most obvious conclusions, even if it takes a well-trodden path.
What Keeps You Alive doesn’t change the game but it has a little bit of fun while playing it.
What Keeps You Alive (2018) Directed by Colin Minihan. Written by Colin Minihan. Starring Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen.
6 out of 10