Queers in Horror: What Keeps You Alive

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In the Queers in Horror series, I will highlight genre films that feature prominent queer characters or themes.  Some of these films will be wildly popular while others may not have as big of a spotlight on them as other films.  So brace yourself… for the Queers in Horror.

Film: What Keeps You Alive

Release Year: 2018

Who’s In It: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha MacIsaac, Joey Klein

What’s It About: On their one-year anniversary, newly weds Jules and Jackie go away to Jackie’s isolated cabin in the woods. After a shocking moment of terror the couple engages in a game of cat and mouse that becomes the ultimate nightmare.

What Makes This Movie So Gay: Jules (Brittany Allen) and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) are a married lesbian couple. Their sexuality is never treated as a special topic and the movie doesn’t exploit their sexuality. Props.

Is this Movie Any Good: Part of a story’s success is for the audience to be able to root for the lead character. Whether the protagonist is an underdog overcoming adversity or a conflicted antihero, it’s imperative for the audience to connect, on some level, with the protagonist. Unfortunately It’s hard to do so when said protagonist is written as such a mind numbingly idiotic character. For 2020 and beyond, I’m asking all filmmakers to stop writing female characters in horror who are incapable of basic human survival skills. Poor Brittany Allen deserves so much better than this. While the movie starts out fine, it’s right when it hits the second act that my frustration at the lead character’s actions grew. Without spoiling anything because I want you, the reader, to watch the movie (I shouldn’t be the only who has to suffer) there are moments where I should have felt empathetic to Jules but I couldn’t. It happens when a character is written as such a weak and quasi-offensive version of a “damsel in distress.” The cinematography was an area where the film thrived. The beautifully lush Canadian wilderness is captivating and presented a breathtaking backdrop for the film’s most action-heavy scenes. Also, the acting in particular by our leads, Allen and Hannah Emily Anderson are chilling but deserved a much, much better film. We watch both actresses go through, what appears to be, a constant state of manic fear and terror for an hour and a half and both rose to the challenge. Unfortunately, in a film where I kept checking the clock to see how much time was left, even they weren’t enough to save it.

*1/2 out of 4

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