What Keeps You Alive – Canada, 2018 – reviews

What Keeps You Alive is a 2018 Canadian psychological thriller feature film written, co-produced and directed by Colin Minihan (It Stains the Sands Red; Extraterrestrial). It stars Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, and Martha MacIsaac.

On the eve of their one year wedding anniversary, Jules (Brittany Allen) and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) become embroiled in a merciless fight for their lives when they find themselves pitted against the most unexpected of adversaries: each other.

As violence rains down upon their idyllic forest getaway, the women engage in a frenzied psychological and vicious battle that will test the very limits of their instinct to survive…


“You can see what Minihan was going for, but it just doesn’t work. The film also doesn’t completely seem to know what kind of tone it’s going for.  Jackie’s dialogue can come across as a little mustache-twirly one moment and then terrifying the next. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the shifts in tone are sometimes jarring.” Trace Thurman, Bloody Disgusting

“Be it the beautiful visuals of the forest or the fascinating back-and-forth between Jules and Jackie, What Keeps You Alive knows how to make the most out of every scene. Furthermore, those who like their horror movies to flow with rivulets of blood will not leave this movie disappointed as there are some decidedly cringe-inducing moments.” Jonathan Barkan, Dread Central

What Keeps You Alive isn’t flashy or loud (aside from those damn stingers) in announcing its presence, but it’s s solidly enjoyable thriller all the same. The villain earns our hate, the hero finds our support, and the ending reminds viewers of where we began. Love is a powerful motivation for survival.” Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“The script wittily toys with audience loyalty as roles are reversed and both leads prove equally capable of brutality, but it never slides into the cliched territory of the cycle of 1990’s Hollywood fill-in-the-blank-from-Hell movies. This Ontario-shot movie does suffer from the 21st century curse of too many endings, but its key climactic twist is marvellously pulled off and it never releases its vice-like grip.” Horrorscreams Videovault

“With a tiny cast – the neighbour has a husband (Joey Klein) – and a tight little story, the film has time to show off a bit … a chase across the lake on rowing boats, a post-murder cleanup session where the killer uses blacklight to illuminate in hallucinogenic purple the bloodstains she wants to wash away, a fight in the attic conveyed by the camera panning through the room below as the light fittings  are disturbed, several near monologues that could count as showreel exercises, and a spot-on punchline.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Both Anderson and Allen worked on last year’s Jigsaw, but this is another type of horror film entirely. Sure, there are shocking moments, but Minihan is working on a completely different level than most of his so-called peers. You’ll want to pause the film to absorb the beauty of practically every frame, but you won’t want to wait to see what the director has planned for you in the next shot.” Kimber Myers, The Playlist

Despite the strong performances and stylish direction, the script becomes increasingly preposterous and implausible as it goes along. Much like A Quiet Place, the central premise buckles under even the slightest degree of scrutiny, but if you are willing to surrender to its visceral, rather than cerebral, thrills, What Keeps You Alive has plenty to offer.

” …the film makes a strong argument for the value of artistry in horror. Stark colors and an active camera, chasing or leading the characters, give the whole film a sense of intensity and dynamism […] Anderson and Allen are both compelling screen presences, with chemistry that slides between warm and natural, and downright electric.” Tasha Robinson, The Verge

Cast and characters:

  • Hannah Emily Anderson … Jackie (Jigsaw; Dark Phoenix)
  • Brittany Allen … Jules (It Stains the Sands Red)
  • Martha MacIsaac … Sarah
  • Joey Klein … Daniel
  • Charlotte Lindsay Marron … Young Jackie

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