What Keeps You Alive: Marriage is About Give and Taking Lives – Netflix Review

A married woman finds out that her wife is not who she thought.

SUMMARY

Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) is married to Jules (Brittany Allen), and the two are celebrating their first anniversary at a remote cabin in the woods that Jackie went to as a kid. On their first night, a young woman named Sarah (Martha MacIsaac) stops by to check on the cabin and recognizes Jackie, but calls her “Megan.” Jackie and Jules later visit Sarah and her husband, Daniel (Joey Klein), and Jules finds out that Jackie witnessed a girl drown as a child. Jackie claims that she blamed herself for not saving the girl and changed her name by choice, which Jules doesn’t quite buy. When the couple talk on a hike later, Jules finally starts to let her suspicions go, only for Jackie to push her off of a cliff. Jules barely survives, gravely injured, and now must survive a woman who apparently has been hiding a dark side this entire time.

They look so cute until the attempted homicide.

END SUMMARY

This movie has only four characters and has a plot (person you trust that turns out to be psychotic killer) that has been reused throughout horror movie history more times than I can count. However, most of the film is done so well that you will likely be on the edge of your seat anyway. It doesn’t matter that it’s a trope plot, it’s one that works. A big part of the appeal of films like Night of the Hunter and The Bad Seed is having a character who seems so innocent turn out to be a monster. It’s a reminder that no human can ever really know another one perfectly, and that those dark sides can be really dark. It’s not something that is likely to change in the near future. Have other movies done it better? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean this film doesn’t have merits.

There are some super tense scenes.

It’s really the interplay between the two leads that makes it work, and it works no matter which dynamic is on screen. Yes, Anderson plays a complete manipulative sociopath, but Allen has to sell how completely caught off-guard she is by the situation. This isn’t just a friend who has a dark side; this is her wife. This is the woman she loves, she sleeps with, she trusts implicitly with everything. Even when Jackie pushes Jules off of the cliff, you can tell that Jules isn’t quite sure of what to make of it. It’s only when she catches Jackie feigning an emotional plea that she really starts to realize that all of it, everything they experienced together, was just an act. It’s an absolutely amazing scene and both parties capture the feelings precisely.

Boats can be horrifying with the wrong company.

Now, there are upsides and downsides to being very formulaic. On the one hand, you will be predictable and that will annoy a lot of viewers. On the other hand, it makes the scenes better when you deviate. For example, unlike most films where a person is revealed to be a serial killer, this movie actually has some slow character moments that interrupt the “chase,” due to Jules’ machinations. She buys time before Jackie can kill her, which forces them to stay in proximity while Jackie just gets to keep trying to convince Jules that she’s going to die, while Jules tries to find some humanity in her wife. These scenes really set this movie apart from most horror/thriller films. Plus, it’s over in 90 minutes (plus credits), and that’s about as long as this movie could be. 

It walks a knife edge.

Overall, I can understand why the IMDB for this movie is so low (it is tropey as heck, and people may hate that), but I personally thought it was worth the watch. If you’re not into thrillers, don’t waste your time. The rest of you, check it out.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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