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Tribeca ’23 Movie Review: “YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME” is a true and frightening discovery

Friday, June 16, 2023 | Reviews


Starring Brendan Rock and Jordan Cowan
Directed by Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell
Written by Indianna Bell
Stakeout Films

There are only two people on screen for almost all of YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME, the latest superior scare film to spring from the genre-fertile soil of Australia, but the rain that pours down throughout its running time is something of a third character. As we’re introduced to a heavily bearded man (Brendan Rock) dwelling alone in a rural RV park late one night, a storm blows up, and the torrents pound on his roof with such force that they sound like a living thing trying to tear its way inside. This and the overall soundscape created by Duncan Campbell do a great job of setting the audience on edge, even before someone comes knocking forcefully on the man’s door.

The Visitor (as this young woman, played by Jordan Cowan, is billed) is drenched, barefoot and in desperate need of shelter. He lets her in reluctantly, evidently having other, troubling things on his mind. Right away, there’s a sense that she might not be able to trust him, and his offer that she use his shower might not be motivated by generosity. And yet, as their awkward conversations continue, we get the feeling she isn’t being totally honest either, as he starts pointing out holes in her story of how she got there. Clearly the situation is slowly building toward a horrific boil, and it remains suspensefully and tantalizingly unclear whose hand is on the burner.

YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME, a world premiere at the current Tribeca Festival, is a sterling example of two young, fiercely talented newcomers (writer/director/producer Indianna Bell and director/producer Josiah Allen) making the absolute most of a simple scenario easy to wrangle on a production level: A pair of actors, one location. Keeping dramatic interest in such a situation is a far greater challenge, one the duo rise to with a skill belying that this is their first feature, following some award-winning short films. Bell’s screenplay demonstrates a keen sense of character and how and when to reveal it, as the two principals verbally dance around each other, letting their guards down at some moments and dropping hints that they might be dangerous at others. As directors, Bell and Allen make adroit use of their limited space, finding numerous angles to shoot from and always choosing just the right one to elicit the maximum tension.

Just as crucial are the two perfectly complementary central performances. Rock’s loner, at first looking like just the type of person you don’t want to encounter on a dark and stormy night, gradually reveals a history suggesting he might warrant sympathy. Similarly, Cowan’s Visitor initially appears rather helpless, before her intimations that there’s a side of herself she’s not showing. Both actors convey those dualities and play off each other beautifully, riveting our attention and keeping us guessing. YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME has also been impeccably crafted in the service of establishing a gloomy milieu in which these two can square off, with Maxx Corkindale’s eerie cinematography alternately revealing the details of Hannah Sitters’ lived-in production design and shrouding them in shadow to unnerving effect, enhanced by Darren Lim’s chilling score.

YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME’s horrors simmer under the surface for most of the running time, and part of the enjoyment lies in wondering when the clearly buried secrets of one or both of the protagonists will suddenly erupt to the forefront. There are a few visceral moments here and there that drop clues about where the narrative is going, and when the movie begins turning that corner, Allen and Bell deliver the revelations and ramifications with a confidence equal to their handling of unease created by looks, gestures and silences. Here’s hoping their film receives the distribution it deserves, so it can be easily found by a wider audience.

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).