Despite having grown up and studied in very different environments, filmmaking duo Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks, always approach their directing partnership with a common denominator: character. “The worlds we create and the horrors we bring forward mean nothing if our audience cannot easily experience those things through strong and complex characters. Empathy is something earned in film, and we work hard to earn that suspension of disbelief.”
Their debut feature film, ALONE WITH YOU, which they wrote and directed together, and which Bennett also stars in, is certainly testament to this. Based on one of Brooks’ original shorts, the feature was developed and shot entirely during quarantine, making astoundingly inventive use of what resources the couple had on hand.
Writing for the film’s protagonist, Charlie, as a personal quarantine diary of sorts, they went about crafting a film that chronicled the horrors of the pandemic they were experiencing yet without ever directly referencing the very real horror of the pandemic times we were – and still are – living in. As a result, once the world finally reaches the light at the end of this traumatic tunnel, the anxieties and insecurities Bennett and Brooks dissect in Alone with You will undoubtedly remain just as vital and apropos as they were when we were all condemned to lockdown.
The film, which also stars Emma Myles (“Orange Is the New Black”), Dora Madison (“Friday Night Lights”) and the first lady of horror, Barbara Crampton (You’re Next), introduces the audience to Charlie (Bennett), a young woman who, just as she is putting the finishing touches to a much-anticipated romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, begins to experience voices, shadows, and hallucinations in her apartment that slowly reveal a truth that she may have been unwilling to face, until now.
Ahead of ALONE WITH YOU releasing in cinemas this February 4, swiftly followed with an On Demand, Digital and DVD release on February 8, SCREAM caught up with Emily Bennett, Justin Brooks and Barbara Crampton who discussed their mutual love for late ’70s/ early ’80s horror classics, going beyond the call of duty to put their audience inside the protagonist’s spiralling mindset and how they approached the film in the hopes that people will be able to relate to the universal themes dissected for many years to come.
WORDS: Howard Gorman