Fantastic Fest 2023: You’re Not Me Invites You to the Worst Christmas Party Ever

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I’m a big fan of Christmas horror. Every year, movies like Gremlins, Rare Exports, and Anna and the Apocalypse form a big part of my Christmas festivities, and I’m always on the lookout for more titles to add to that list. So naturally, when I heard about You’re Not Me, I was instantly hooked. The film is essentially about the worst Christmas party ever, and the Fantastic Fest plot synopsis also teased a really intriguing and bizarre mystery. It sounded like this movie would be right up my alley, and after finally getting the chance to watch it, I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed.

You’re Not Me was written and directed by Marisa Crespo and Moisés Romera, and it stars Pilar Almería, Anna Kurikka, Jorge Motos, Alfred Picó, Yapoena Silva, and Roser Tapias. It’s about a woman named Aitana who shows up unannounced at her childhood home with her partner Gabi and their newly adopted son. She expects her parents Dori and Justo to be thrilled at the surprise, but the only one who seems happy to see her is her brother Saúl. Dori and Justo give her a strangely cold reception, so right from the get-go, it’s clear that something isn’t right here.

What’s more, Aitana also discovers that her parents have taken in a refugee named Nadia, and the woman has essentially taken her place in the family. She sleeps in Aitana’s room, she wears Aitana’s clothes and jewelry, and Dori and Justo have even replaced pictures of Aitana with pictures of Nadia. And as if that wasn’t enough, Dori and Justo also throw an overly fancy Christmas Eve party, but instead of inviting their relatives, they instead host a new group of friends Aitana has never even heard of. It’s just a very odd situation all around, and when Aitana learns what’s really going on, she gets the shock of her life.

From that plot synopsis alone, you can probably understand why I was so interested in seeing You’re Not Me. Even on paper, it sounds like a super intriguing mystery, and thankfully, the execution totally lives up to the premise. For most of the film’s runtime, the bizarre goings-on create a The Invitation-esque atmosphere of tension and paranoia that raises a ton of questions, but until the final few minutes, the story only gives us a mere wisp of an answer.

See, Saúl has an unspecified degenerative muscular disease, and You’re Not Me makes a point of hammering home just how hard it is for Dori and Justo to see their son suffer like that. The characters mention it multiple times, and there’s even a scene where the guy has a seizure and almost dies. It feels like the family’s odd behavior must somehow be related to his condition, but it’s not entirely clear how.

People looking fancy

To be fair, if you’re a seasoned genre veteran, you’ll probably be able to more or less figure out what’s really going on well before the big reveal. The third act isn’t exactly ground-breaking, so if you’ve seen enough horror movies, you won’t have much of a problem guessing how it’ll all play out.

And in a lesser film, that would probably prove fatal. But not here. Even though You’re Not Me gives you enough clues that you can piece together the puzzle yourself, those clues don’t fit together so tightly that you’re 100% sure about it. The film still leaves plenty of room for doubt, and that mix of predictability and uncertainty will have you on the absolute edge of your seat, wondering if you got it right.

Then, when You’re Not Me finally pulls back the curtain and lets you in on its secrets, the payoff does not disappoint. I can’t go into any specifics without spoiling the ending, but suffice it to say, the third act eschews the more subtle paranoid thriller vibe of the previous 80 minutes or so and goes all out on the horror. It’s an absolute joy to watch, and for a big genre fan like me, it feels like an almost cathartic release after tiptoeing around the terror for so long.

On top of that, the ending of You’re Not Me also gives the movie a really great message that I, for one, was not expecting. Unfortunately, I can’t say what that message is without hinting a bit too strongly at how the story plays out, but I can say that it touches on one of the most important social issues facing our world today. It’s a topic that has to do with human dignity, and in broad strokes, the film strongly affirms that every human being is valuable and deserves to live a life free from violence and cruelty, no matter how useless or unimportant some people may think they are.

In particular, the movie’s message is very closely related to the status of one of its characters, and the fact that Justo and Dori hold a super fancy Christmas Eve party plays into that message in an important way. Admittedly, that might sound a little opaque if you haven’t seen the film, but trust me, if you do get a chance to watch it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

On the flipside, I have to be honest, I don’t have any big criticisms of You’re Not Me. Sure, there are a few things I could nitpick here and there, like a couple of lines that I think could’ve been delivered a bit better, but on the whole, this is just an all-around good movie. It features an intriguing premise that’s executed with equally thought-provoking tension and paranoia, and the payoff is completely satisfying. This film is pretty much everything I wanted it to be, so when the credits began to roll, I was a very happy man.

You’re Not Me had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 22, and it’s set to have another showing on September 25.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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