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Brittany Allen and Hannah Emily Anderson in What Keeps You Alive.

Courtesy of IFC Midnight

  • What Keeps You Alive
  • Written by: Colin Minihan
  • Directed by: Colin Minihan
  • Starring: Brittany Allen, Hannah Emily Anderson
  • Classification: 14A
  • 99 minutes

rating

Happy anniversary? More like, slashy anniversary. A weekend at the cottage for Jackie and Jules takes a turn for the terrifying in What Keeps You Alive, a dark, visually appealing and occasionally implausible Canadian thriller from writer-director Colin Minihan and his actor-partner Brittany Allen. The latter co-stars as Jules, married for one year to Jackie, a woman with suspicious secrets and standout outdoorsy skills. Tension builds excellently as we get to know the couple. When things turn savage, the film that could have easily reduced itself to simple kill-or-be-killed suspense instead considers the psychological bewilderment of a person homicidally betrayed by a loved one. Also, a practical tip on the best way to clean blood off wooden surfaces is supplied, free of charge. The action is grim and not without gore. Heebies, jeebies and even willies will be left on theatre floors like so much stray popcorn and spilled soda. That being said, the victory of What Keeps You Alive is not its heart-thumping (and a little too long) second act, but the question of survival versus vengeance the film raises.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to writer-director Colin Minihan and actor Brittany Allen as married. This version has been updated.