Fears and anxieties about isolation and loneliness haunt twentysomething Lucy (Maika Monroe of It Follows and Villains, in another fine performance) during a long night in writer/director Kate Trefry’s psychological horror short How to Be Alone. What scares us most is often what we concoct in our minds, and Trefry combines that idea with absolutely stunning production design to create an eerie slice of cinema with touches of dark humor.
Lucy is left to her own devices for 12 hours when significant other Jack (Joe Keery, Stranger Things) heads to work for an overnight hospital shift. The short shifts to her inner monologue once she is left alone, and viewers fully share her dark journey in which she sets goals of eating cereal, painting her nails, and organizing her studio, but finds herself transfixed by a cabinet that fills her with dread and fear.
Trefry, who is also a staff writer and story editor for Stranger Things, delves deep into the recesses and crevices of a troubled mind, examining the terrifying fantasies that can overcome people when left alone. Though she presents some unsettling imagery and creates a tense atmosphere, she also adds flourishes of humor.
The production design is marvelous, with vivid colors bringing the horrors of Lucy’s fears to stark life. David Pergolini’s crisp editing and the synths-and-percussion–driven score by Michael Dean Parsons and John Kaefer blend together perfectly, building from slow and ominous to rapid and pulse-pounding. Monroe dominates the screen time and gives a masterly performance with both her voiceover performance and facial expressions.
How to Be Alone is a superb calling card for Trefry as a director. With a debut this strong, I can’t wait to see what she has in store for future cinematic projects.
How to Be Alone screened at Popcorn Frights, which ran in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from August 8–16. With that festival screening now finished, readers can watch the short at the link below.
(4.5 / 5)