Written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, “Significant Other” is a hybrid of horror sub genres that make up a very satisfying whole.
Maika Monroe and Jake Lacey are Ruth and Harry, a couple on a hiking trip in the forests of the Pacific Northwest who encounter something sinister.
It is no spoiler to state that the trouble may be of extraterrestrial origin, as the film’s opening shot is a lone “meteor” falling from the skies. It is where the filmmakers take you from that point that will become a trail full of many revelations and shocking discoveries.
Abandon all expectations ye who enter “Significant Other”. I can promise you; the movie is consistently two steps ahead of what you think you may know.
Monroe (so good in another 2022 genre treasure, “Watcher”) and Lacey are perfect in their challenging roles. Ruth and Harry are obviously in love but, as we come to learn, have a somewhat complicated relationship.
The two actors give off a “lived in” feeling to the couple and are completely committed to the material and the paths it takes.
While there is a hint at a past trauma in Ruth’s life (she suffers from panic attacks and takes medication for them), the film doesn’t dwell on it, but uses it as a catalyst for…
The descriptions of the plot stop here. Regarding the film’s constant surprises and inventive thrills, to discuss anything more would spoil the viewer’s discovery of the eerie riches to come.
From the first shot (the serene beauty of the tree lines and blue sky disturbed by a fiery ball of light falling from above), the filmmakers create a striking sense of unease that snakes through every scene until the final credits roll.
Cinematographer Matt Mitchell’s compositions are quite interesting and often beautiful. The camera uses the landscapes of Oregon to intoxicate the audience (many shots are stunning!) while slowly pulling us into the darkness, assuring that something is definitely “out there”.
Mood is one of the guiding forces of the film. Composer Oliver Coates does great work using a Brian Eno-esque hypnotic synth score mixed with understated strings that captures the uneasy tension surrounding the mystery of it all.
Berk and Olsen’s screenplay is a well-constructed mix of Horror, Sci-Fi, and relationship drama, with each working very well. We get to know Ruth and Harry just enough to make us care for them. Both seem like good people and the script impresses by not making them another cardboard cutout horror movie couple who have sex and bicker for no reason. The filmmakers have invested care into their portrayal.
These filmmakers prove to be impressive talents and who are confident in their story, crafting the piece with patience and determination.
It pleases me to be restricted in my review of this picture. This tells you the plot is full of clever ideas and revelations that no critic should spoil. There is much to talk about, but my hands are joyfully tied.
Genre films of today rarely hold surprises for their audiences. “Significant Other” holds many and is one of the more entertaining and aesthetically pleasing films of 2022.
Written & Directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen
Starring Maika Monroe & Jake Lacey
R, 84 Minutes, Paramount Players/Quay Street Productions