YOU'LL NEVER FIND ME

★★★★

A SATISFYING NEW AUSTRALIAN HORROR THRILLER

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Charlie David Page
9th March 2024

Australia only occasionally finds its way into the horror genre these days - but when it does on an indie scale, it tends to do them remarkably well. Of course, the likes of 'Wolf Creek', 'Snowtown' or 'The Babadook' come to mind - but perhaps more recently, the likes of 'Talk To Me', 'Relic' or 'Monolith'. Another film has begun bubbling up of late, intriguing with its positive international attention from film festivals. 'You'll Never Find Me' is well worth adding to the list of illustrious horror titles, and only has its restraint to thank for that.

It's a cold, stormy night. The time is past 2am. Patrick (Brendan Rock, 'Carniflex') is mulling over the evening's events when a loud knock disrupts the silence in his remote mobile home. Waiting outside is a Visitor (Jordan Cowan, 'Harmony') - a young woman, dripping wet with bare, muddy feet asking to come in and use a phone. Patrick permits her entry and offers her dry clothes and food, but the two grow increasingly wary of the other - trust seems hard to come by, all the more so when the power goes out. So what was this woman doing out in such wild weather - but just as oddly, what had kept Patrick up so late?

SWITCH: 'YOU'LL NEVER FIND ME' TRAILER

This may seem like a simple premise - a man and woman trapped together in one location, but who's the real baddie? - but what elevates 'You'll Never Find Me' above your usual thriller and horror fodder is the exceptional quality of the writing. We're really allowed to get to know the two characters, both together in their conversations and in private moments. We learn much in quiet moments of contemplation or slight actions that betray motivations. Yet the highlight comes from the monologues delivered as the two characters sit about on this dark, rainy night. The insight indeliberately revealed in these conversations gives the greatest understanding of what's being hidden, and what's to come. These exchanges are fixatingly penned by Indianna Bell, and provide perhaps the strongest motivation to seek out this film.

Though it's certainly not the only reason. Bell is also one half of the Adelaide-based directing duo behind the film, along with Josiah Allen, both of whom are impressively offering up their first work on a feature film, and a low-budget one at that. Debuting at last year's Tribeca Film Festival as the only Australian selection among the 2023 collection, 'You'll Never Find Me' went on to win Best Feature Film at the inaugural SXSW Sydney. That speaks to the team's masterful work in creating a claustrophobic, tension-laden thriller. Within the physical confines of the setting, at times the atmosphere becoming unbearable as these two people manoeuvre and sidestep around each other, trying to gain the upper hand with knowledge or leverage - or sometimes, both.

The highlight comes from the monologues delivered as the two characters sit about on this dark, rainy night. The insight indeliberately revealed in these conversations gives the greatest understanding of what's being hidden, and what's to come.

That mood could not be achieved without the phenomenal work carried out by Brendan Rock and Jordan Cowan. As our only on-screen talent, the success or failure of the film rests in their execution of the well-planned foundations. Fortunately, they are such opposing elements it's impossible not to be drawn into this two-hander; Rock as the gruff loner, Cowan as the mysterious drifter, both with their own secrets. What works magically however is the core of that simple premise - who's the real baddie? What the two actors bring to their characters are flaws that leave you wondering for the film's entire run time what's really happening and where it's heading.

On the film's conclusion - while remaining spoiler-free - it's the film's third act that prevented this from being a five-star review. Though an interesting twist, it was the execution in its most heightened moments that fell short for me. The build-up until that point had been so deftly constructed and earned, and that climax felt cheap by comparison. While the idea of reciprocal revenge worked well, it would have been so much more satisfying had it been implemented through a more elegant means.

While detracting from what could be a perfect Australian horror, that foible doesn't make this a less enjoyable ride. 'You'll Never Find Me' is a masterclass in concept expansion, in character writing, in location restriction, in tension building, all offered up in an agile 96-minute package. You'll be left questioning every move, every statement, and wonder who'll come out on top in the end. Like all good thrillers, you'll probably even forget to breathe in parts. The truth has never seemed so uncertain - but the game has never been so gratifying to watch.

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