streaming horror always shine

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October, we’ll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today’s entry: Always Shine (2016).

Always Shine
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Kanopy

Sub-Genre: A Hitchcockian Meets Lynchian Psychological Thriller

Best Setting to Watch It In: Big Sur

How Scary Is It?: Don’t expect traditional horror scares here, but there are plenty of disturbing elements

Jealousy, guilt, doubt, and rage swirl together in Sophia Takal‘s haunting Always Shine. A sun-dappled tale of identity that feels influenced by both Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and David Lynch’s Mulholland DriveAlways Shine follows two friends who are both struggling actresses. Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald) is starting to move beyond the “struggling” camp as her career beings to take off and she’s getting better-paying gigs. Her best friend Anna (Mackenzie Davis) isn’t so lucky. She’s stuck working for nothing in student films, just waiting for her big break.

The two friends plan a trip out to Big Sur, but what should be an excuse for two old friends to reconnect turns sinister as the weekend grinds on. Anna’s jealousy at Beth’s success festers. Beth, meanwhile, is so insecure she can’t really comprehend why Anna would be jealous of her. Emotions run high and things eventually boil over, resulting in a shocking turn of events.

And then things get weird.

To say more would do the film a disservice and spoil the fun. But as the film progresses, Anna undergoes a major change and finds herself behaving more and more like Beth. Is she playing a part? Has she gone off the deep end? Is this all some sort of trippy dream? Takal draws the viewer in by taking us into idyllic locals and making them seem disturbing, and by letting the camera linger on the fixed, telling gazes of her two stars. “I think there are so many movies about hysterical women and so many of them are directed by men,” Takal said. “I don’t know if because I’m a woman, the way I chose to shoot things was a byproduct of that but I never thought about that particular thing. Every decision about what to show and what not to show came from the characters and how they would naturally behave.”

FitzGerald is quite good as the timid but also passive-aggressive Beth, but Davis shines brightest as the fully aggressive, frustrated Anna. It’s the tricker of the two parts as it requires Davis to be both overbearing and meek in the blink of an eye – and she nails both to perfection.

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