HOW TO BE ALONE **** USA 2019 Dir: Kate Trefry. 13 mins
This is the filmmaking debut for writer Kate Trefry, a staff-writer on Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS. Maika Monroe, so good in both THE GUEST and IT FOLLOWS, is typically excellent as a photographer stuck at home while her husband disappears for his regular night shift. Something is off with this household from the start, beginning with the unease generated by Monroe “reassuring” his concern for her safety with a rhetorical “What could be worse than me?” Her voiceover gives some insight into her everyday life and the steps she takes (e.g. ignoring an odd knocking from the wardrobe) to pass the time and, indeed, feel safe. Bunny suits, snakes and a gimp-suited figure are balanced with pondering over Freudian analysis and pontificating over career choices. This offbeat, surrealistic character-driven piece travels on flights of fancy in conjunction with its protagonist’s typical tangents and offers a series of disturbing images (a crying baby in a pool of blood) to reflect its superbly acted examination of anxiety. It’s ultimately an everyday story about all of our fears of being alone, of relationships falling apart (despite the smoke and mirrors of “stellar blowjobs”)…but it’s one that happens to be dressed up with a distinctive visual style and even a cool glimpse of a Lovecraftian monster that reminds us of Trefry’s background.
Review by Steven West