The other day I got to attend a movie screening for a Macedonian film from independent film company Focus Films: You Won’t Be Alone.
If you’ve read my work, I have a love of shapeshifters and people who can take on the appearance of someone or something else. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed working into my novels, from the Stolen series to The Seeking to The Wolves of Kanta series. Imagine my surprise and delight to find this film which portrays a shapeshifter I had never heard of before.
The screening we saw had a multitude of issues, as many who screen foreign films have likely seen before. The poor employees tried multiple times to get subtitles to work, but after three or four stops and starts they gave up. Still the story was so visual and the interactions so visceral, we didn’t need dialogue to understand what was going on.
(We’ll get a screener sent to us soon so we can rewatch with subtitles, so I’ll be coming back to update this post once we do!)
The story follows the birth of a baby who is claimed by a shapeshifting witch despite her mother’s pleas. The mother keeps the girl in a cave I believe out of fear, coming occasionally to wash her face, bring her food, and clean her hair. Once the girl is a teenager, the mother and the witch fight, and soon the girl has a new caretaker—the witch in her mother’s body.
Throughout the film we see the girl abused by the witch, pushed repeatedly away from enjoying living things and instead pushed towards embracing death.
At one of my favorite scenes the witch watches the girl dance among the fireflies. The witch grabs one and pokes at it, trying to get it to move, then gets annoyed when she realizes she’s killed it.
When these two part ways, the girl explores a local village and we get to see the grotesque way that she and the witch shapeshift. This was gruesome but also strangely intimate at the same time, almost reminding me of birth.
This movie is the kind of dark fantasy I truly like and rarely see. It’s amazing to get to see it come to life on film. It doesn’t shy away from sex or gore, but these are simply portrayed as part of everyday life for these creatures. It was amazing to see the kind of story I usually only see written in book form be brought to life on screen. It was powerful, subversive, and strangely empowering.
I honestly can’t recommend this film enough. It was one of those movies I am instantly going to buy on Blu-ray and keep for my collection when it comes out. It’s a feminine, sexual take on a horrific folklore shapeshifter that grabs your attention and refuses to let go. The acting is incredible, the special effects were practical and surprisingly well done, and the set designs were gorgeous and immersive.
If you enjoy dark fantasy movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth or In the Company of Wolves, this is definitely worth checking out!