You’re Not Me Is Holiday Cult Horror [Fantastic Fest ’23]

You're Not Me still of people standing in a living room smiling creepily.

Playing at Fantastic Fest, You’re Not Me is a Spanish horror film. It has an immediate creepy atmosphere that ratchets up. It’s The Stepford Wives or Get Out quality builds. Although frustrating, audiences might enjoy screaming at characters on screen. On the one hand, poor, even illogical, decisions confuse the lead and viewer. But as the situation snowballs, You’re Not Me captures those moments in life where no one notices the nonsensical occurrences. These are the “Is it just me?” incredulous moments in abundance. 

Directed by Marisa Crespo and Moisés Romero, it captures the constant swirl of confusion Aitana (Roser Tapias) feels when she arrives home after years away. With her wife, Gabi (Yapoena Silva), and their adopted baby boy, João in tow the holiday surprise is anything but festive. She receives an icy greeting from her parents, Dori (Pilar Almeria) and Oriol (Álvaro Báguena), instead of the anticipated warm welcome. As the evening builds, Aitana’s suspicions climb. The home fills with strangers rather than the usual familial holiday celebration. You’re Not Me screams cult. But the question is what are they after, and what are they sacrificing to get it? 

You’re Not Me Presents Annoying Characters and Poor Choices

Everyone, from Aitana to her wife Gabi, is a source of frustration. There is sympathy when they first meet Aitana’s parents and brother, Saúl (Jorge Motos). After all, the only person happy to see them is Aitana’s brother. Add in that Aitana’s parents gave her room and belongings away to a random woman they took in, Nadia (Anna Kurika), and it’s easy to feel bad. To top it off, her wife, Gabi, does not understand her resentment. She even downplays Aitana’s feelings. Gabi has a penchant for siding with people she just met instead of her wife. You almost want to shake her. But support for Aitana soon fades. 

Aitana’s actions and decisions in You’re Not Me become difficult to understand. Her parents are wealthy. So, as the film continues, Aitana looks more like a spoiled, rich girl with a savior complex. It’s similar to white people. Rescuing others adds to their superiority complex. The references to both Gabi and baby Joao as “chocolate” because of their dark skin adds another uncomfortable layer. Those types espouse ideals that do not reflect their personal life.

You're Not Me poster of woman with her eyes visible through hands covering them.
You’re Not Me poster. Fantastic Fest ’23.

In fact, the minute the “outsider” encroaches on their personal life, their true selves shine through. It’s all suspicion and sneering condescension. Aitana does not sense something untoward from Nadia. Her distrust stems from jealousy. She ignores signs of danger for her misdirected suspicion. Prejudices and resentment leave her targeting Nadia. Those doubts should go to her parents and their new guests. However, biases lower one’s ability to see what’s apparent or multitask. 

Compelling, Teeth-Gnashing Performances

The acting in You’re Not Me lays the groundwork for audiences to second-guess what they think they know and who or what the danger is. Though Aitana does not see it, everyone is a suspect. Characters in the film exude frustration. Near the end, the answer comes together. Previous conversations take on new importance. Gabi’s character seems underutilized, and the few moments where even she realizes something’s amiss wind up feeling unnecessary to the story. Lead Roser Tapias, as Aitana, emphasizes the pain and conceit of her character. Her acting is stellar.

You’re Not Me creates a tense, uncomfortable, atmospheric holiday horror. It makes you want to rethink a family visit. Except for baby João, everyone else gets a side-eye. The classist attitude throughout adds a layer of discomfort not soon forgotten. The unease never lets up, but it is challenging to find the source. With the eerie holiday music making Christmastime send chills down the spine without a cold draft and the uneasy assortment of people, You’re Not Me makes for a disconcerting holiday watch.  

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