Sleek Sci-fi Horror Significant Other (2022) Touches on the Horrors of Love and Humanity
Title: Significant Other
First Non-Festival Release: October 6, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Writer: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Maika Monroe, Jake Lacy, Matthew Yang King, Dana Green
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
The bonds of relationships have changed over time to fit new ideals and necessities. By nature, our relationships are fluid, ever-changing with the introduction of new stimuli and experiences, which can make them uncertain, and to some, scary.
This is why Ruth (Maika Monroe) is determined to forgo marriage. Although she loves her boyfriend Harry (Jake Lacy), she cannot shake the feeling that one day he will leave, and she does not want to experience that heartache. After turning down his proposal, the next morning she finds herself lost in the woods and discovering something even scarier than commitment.
Stripped down, character driven sci-fi horror reigns supreme in the contemplative yet exciting Significant Other.
A simple story of hikers falling prey to an unknown force becomes something more whole when coupled with their personal issues. Ruth is afraid of commitment after growing up in a broken home while Harry is keen on settling down and building a life together. Their desires clash and causes the couple to make space for each other. This momentary rift is all that is needed for their world to come crashing down when one discovers that the other is acting strange.
An extended metaphor for the anxieties of love and marriage, Significant Other weaves in its deeper meaning by injecting an unexpectedly sci-fi take on wilderness horror. Ruth’s fears of marriage stem from her belief that people change, and those changes make forming a permanent bond unsafe and ill-advised. When it is revealed that an alien has been posing as Harry, her very fears are confirmed but that doesn’t stop her from putting her survival first. While undoubtedly mourning Harry, Ruth backtracks to pretend she wants. As an audience, we are unaware of her intentions until a few key flashbacks paint a fuller story. This shocking reveal is made sweeter with the knowledge that she is in control of her mental faculties and making every right decision she can make to stay alive.
Beautifully filmed, this little gem manages to balance claustrophobia and intimacy in realistic ways. Gorgeous wide pans of the beautifully remote Pacific Northwest continually establish how isolated the couple are from civilization. When the horror reveals itself to the audience, this wide-open space begins to constrict, digging its claws into both Ruth and the viewer, as any attempts to escape are truly impossible.
Strong lead performances guide Significant Other through the vast wilderness of its treacherous tale. Both Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy bring incredible energy to this quaint project. Monroe is as captivating as ever as Ruth. From physicality to vocal constraint, Monroe projects a constant state of unease in Ruth that follows her across the miles of trail. Even before the stakes raise and the writers begin to foreshadow, Monroe paints Ruth as a guarded person with plenty of reason to keep to herself. Lacy imbues a sense of earnestness that complements Monroe’s more serious work. An easy-going nature and charisma flow through Harry, making him equal parts sympathetic and concerning at different points in the film.
There aren’t too many issues with Significant Other, but many of them arise in its writing. From the bat, the antagonist in the film suffers from the fact it is unkillable and overpowered. While this should instill a sense of fear, it makes the film rather predictable as it runs its course. Each blow received is one the audience knows recovery will be just around the corner, no matter how permanent it seems. Additionally, the lore behind what is stalking Ruth is scant. While it provides a sense of mystery, more information undoubtedly could flesh out the story more while adding an even more sinister touch to the villain.
An unexpected sci-fi horror gem, Paramount Plus knocks it out of the park with Significant Other. Between its twisty script, solid production values, and great cast, this film showcases the power a direct-to-streaming film can have. Monroe, as always is a delight, but her chemistry with Lacy helps elevate Significant Other beyond standard genre fare. Scary, exciting, and a little bit campy, this one has a little bit of everything for everyone. Trust that Significant Other is certainly the one to fall in love with this holiday season.
Overall Score? 8/10