Fantastic Fest 2023 ‘You’ll Never Find Me’ Review – A Terrifyingly Claustrophobic Horror Thriller
You’ll Never Find Me is the debut feature film from directors Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell, who also wrote the screenplay. Patrick (Brendan Rock) lives by himself in a mobile home at the very back of a trailer park. He’s visited by a young woman (Jordan Cowan) during a severe thunderstorm. The woman only wants a place to stay dry while she calls someone for a ride but Patrick insists on being a more hospitable host. As the storm worsens, the woman becomes more and more uncomfortable as Patrick’s hospitality evolves into what could be a life-threatening evening.
It’s almost unbelievable that a film this tense and this effective is from a pair of first time directors. You’ll Never Find Me is a horror thriller where the intense performances and nerve-racking atmosphere are consistently collaborating throughout all 90 minutes of its anxiety-inducing runtime.
Relative unknown actors Brendan Rock and Jordan Cowan deliver captivating performances. The stories the two tell one another and their misleading body language are always letting the audience know that one or both of them are lying. The film is set in one location — the interior of Patrick’s home — and the camera rarely leaves the living room. You’ll Never Find Me could easily be a stage play because the whirlwind performances and stomach-churning sound effects could translate to the stage rather effortlessly.
The storm also sounds like it could rip Patrick’s motor home in half or throw it off into the depths of the dark wilderness at any given moment. The rain pounds against the thin walls of the mobile home as the roof creaks and a loud, distressing pounding echoes throughout Patrick’s home. It sounds like somebody stomping on the roof and banging their fists on the walls; as if a harmonious cacophony of moans and screams reverberate through Patrick’s home whenever the wind blows.
With Patrick implying he’s going to do something awful to this female visitor, and her efforts to plan an escape, the film is mostly a cat and mouse endeavor. You’ll Never Find Me is Australian horror and is a low-budget feature at that. While its production cost is mostly to the film’s benefit, from time to time it also seems to hurt it.
The sound seems very low when the visitor first asks Patrick to come inside while it’s pouring down rain. The two actors rarely raise their voice above a whisper, as well. That combined with their Australian accents often results in lines of dialogue being interpretively muddled, which are all issues that could be fixed with the inclusion of subtitles.
The ending of the film also feels a bit too similar to Alexandre Aja’s High Tension. You understand what the film is trying to go for, but it’s also incredibly ambitious and slightly illogical. You’ll Never Find Me takes an approach similar to Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, where everything is grounded and suspenseful for the majority of the film only to go totally bonkers during the finale; the type of ending that makes you want to revisit the film immediately in order to see if you missed any foreshadowing.
The screenplay is also littered in thought-provoking one-liners that are mostly delivered by Patrick when he’s at his most intimidating. He rambles about fear and excitement being identical emotions, calmly states that he can be clear one moment and furious the next, and drops an enlightening quip about this being the first time in a long time that he feels awake. His dialogue only heightens the overall feeling that this young female visitor is trapped in a mobile home with a madman.
Influenced by the likes of It Comes at Night, Robert Eggers The Witch, and Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, You’ll Never Find Me is a masterpiece of suspense that flourishes in its terrifyingly claustrophobic atmosphere with two of the most riveting performances you’ll see in a horror film this year. Its biggest flaw is that it deserves multiple viewings in order to appreciate its unrelenting head-to-toe submersion into full blown insanity.