Credit: Shudder
by Daniel Gorman Featured Film Streaming Scene

You’ll Never Find Me — Josiah Allen & Indianna Bell

March 28, 2024

A man living by himself in a small, ramshackle house. A knock at the door. A stranger asking for help who may or may not be what they seem. A back-and-forth dance of acrimony, recriminations, furtive glances, dangerous secrets. One might be forgiven for confusing the new horror-tinged psychodrama You’ll Never Find Me for last year’s Old Man, another small-scale, no-budget two-hander that runs out of steam long before the end credits roll. Wedging two characters into a single location has obvious practical benefits, not only in keeping costs down but, in our Covid era, making it easier to meet safety regulations. But single-location films often teeter and topple into theatrical territory, and the demands of character building and a constant stream of dialogue have bested even great filmmakers like Polanski (i.e., Death and the Maiden and Carnage). Directed by Indianna Bell and Josiah Allen, from a screenplay by the former, You’ll Never Find Me traffics in a very contemporary kind of ambiguity; in other words, it has mood to spare but never actually gets really weird.

Credit to the filmmakers and cinematographer Maxx Corkindale: it’s a very good-looking movie at least. We are introduced to Patrick (Brendan Rock) sitting alone at a kitchen table. He’s silently contemplating a small vial of clear liquid while throwing back liquor, the sounds of a raging storm engulfing the small room. The walls and windows creak and moan under the heavy winds, and the torrential rain sounds like hammers hitting the roof. Suddenly, there’s a loud banging at his door. He opens it with trepidation, only to find a rain-soaked young woman (Jordan Cowan). She begs him to let her inside out of the storm; her car has broken down and she just wants to make a phone call. Patrick seems unduly alarmed at the visitor’s presence, although it’s unclear why. He explains that children run through the trailer park banging on doors at all hours of the night, but surely that should not be cause for such alarm. He’s hiding something, in other words.

But the filmmakers complicate our immediate assumptions about a woman alone with a strange man. The visitor — she’s never given a name — keeps changing her story, or gives details that make no sense. She says she was swimming when the storm hit, and then walked until she found this place. But Patrick knows that the beach is miles and miles away. And so it goes, back and forth — he doesn’t have a car and can’t drive her anywhere, nor does he have a cell phone. There’s a pay phone at the other end of the park, but he has to go with her to get through some locked gates. But then, how did she get through the locked gates to come knock on his door? And why is he so insistent that she drink with him?

The filmmakers tease out this tension for as long as they can, capturing the unease between these strangers with lots of static setups that isolate their figures within the small space of the trailer home. Using extremely shallow depth of field keeps the recesses of the house just out of view, and the sounds of the storm wax and wane like a kind of dramatic counterpoint to the dialogue. It’s all very effective, for about an hour. But eventually, the dictates of the story demand a resolution, and the film falls apart once the explanations start. All the assumptions that the filmmakers so expertly toy with are ultimately reaffirmed, like water taking the path of least resistance. There’s ample talent on display here, both formally and from the actors (both excellent), but quite simply Bell and Allen could stand to make things a lot stranger.

DIRECTOR: Josiah Allen & Indianna Bell;  CAST: Brendan Rock, Jordan Cowan, Elena Carapetis;  DISTRIBUTOR: Shudder;  STREAMING: March 22;  RUNTIME: 1 hr. 36 min.