Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.
While many were probably watching the Hellraiser yesterday, I was watching this newly dropped Paramount+ film that seemed to have gotten no attention or advertisements beyond those within its own app (that I saw). It stars horror queen (at this point, she has stepped into that role) Maika Monroe and the generally charming Jake Lacy. It’s mostly a picture that takes place in the Oregon Woods and primarily focuses on this couple, making it an isolated film that digs into its science fiction and horror inspirations. It reminds me to some degree of another under-seen film: Honeymoon.
The two are Ruth and Harry, headed into the woods for a romantic camping and hiking trip. Ruth is hesitant about the endeavor, filled with anxiety about the trek. In the opening shot of the film, we see a strange orange object rocketing from the sky and entering the woods. We know that’s where they are headed, and thus, that it’s not spelling happy-go-lucky times, but our leads are completely unaware.
This is a tightly wound thriller that really benefits from its star leads who carry the film and keep us invested. Despite it being a limited locale, there’s a depth that stretches within these tall trees and between our two leads. Harry wants to get married, and Ruth wants things to stay as they are. But, beyond their own relationship is a growing evil in the wilderness around them, lurking and spreading. At first, it’s witnessed by a deer split in two and covered in what appears to be black sludge. Personally, I’d be hightailing it out of there after such a bizarre and disturbing find, but they continue with their plans.
When things don’t go quite as well with an engagement as Harry had hoped, other things start feeling a little off. There’s something amiss here, and who and what is at the center is at first unsure, but the twist is worth waiting for. Especially because Monroe and Lacy keep us engaged and are both eventually, eerily… off. It keeps you guessing. Against the gorgeous background of the Pacific Northwest woods, Significant Other creates an atmospheric and dreary sensation that tricks you into it seeming simple but eventually proves to be a tense, thrill ride with some hidden tricks up its sleeve.
Co-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen create a not entirely original but intriguing cinematic experience. It doesn’t reinvent the mold, but it is a worthy addition to the genre, and more should uncover its secrets. I also love the considerable lore by its conclusion, which even leans into a sequel. Or, just further thought upon its credits. Maybe it’s the science fiction fan in me, but I love a little (in locale), and that turns out to be a lot (in the scope and impact of the world). Also, less is so often, inevitably more. Some of the exposition in the third act didn’t all work, but still kept me very enthralled. Also, sign me up for anything Maika Monroe does, because she’s a consistent force.
The fantastic performances from Monroe and Lacy and the twisty fashion of the science fiction/horror yarn unspool into a heady trip with an earned payoff.
Significant Other is streaming on Paramount+