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Home > Significant Other (2022): A Review

Significant Other (2022): A Review

Significant Other

A Bold Hat Trick

Significant Other begins with a telltale sign of a sci-fi film, but it’s very easy to forget about it quickly once Ruth (Maika Monroe) and Harry (Jake Lacy) enter the woods. The movie fools you into thinking this is about the two of them being each other’s significant other, but it unfolds into an entirely different meaning toward the end. 

Paramount’s new horror introduces us to Ruth, who struggles with anxiety and has an apparent aversion to marriage, and her boyfriend of six years, Harry, who has an actual intention to this cute camping trip. He convinces his girlfriend to go on a hike through the woods and reassures her that they will be perfectly safe. However, Ruth already senses that something bad is with them from the beginning. 

Normally, we’d view this as a supernatural film, but it’s different. Its first scene shows a red comet-like figure falling from the sky into the woods. Next, we see a child ask the couple if they saw it. So, the movie sets the stage for a clear sci-fi, but what Significant Other does so skillfully is that it makes us forget what we’ve seen. We can only focus on Ruth’s erratic behavior after she starts acting very strange around Harry — strange meaning as if she wants to kill him. 

A Guessing Game

Right from the beginning, it’s obvious that Ruth didn’t want to go on this trip in the first place. And as modern horror fans know, the audience should always trust the most attuned character. However, Ruth quickly gives us a few things to worry about through her actions. 

For starters, she rejects Harry’s picture-perfect proposal on the scenic cliff at the end of their hike. And while her panic attack is relatable, we can’t help but think if she’s the culprit here. Or does she know something about Harry that scares her beyond anything? 

Here’s where the ultimate guessing game begins — who’s the villain here? 

About 90% of the full story only involves these two. We meet another couple later on, but they only force us to try to decipher what’s really going on here. Most of the film revolves around Ruth and Harry, and so, one of them must be the problem, right? 

Wrong. There’s a bigger and more complicated issue at hand, and it’s the bold hat trick Significant Other plays. 

After they make up following her proposal rejection, Ruth and Harry seem peachy keen until she stumbles across some shiny, gooey blue material on the floor of a cave. Afterward, she barely says a word to Harry and acts as if she’s either possessed or a different person. She even strangely leaves their tent in the middle of the night after apparently having “seen an animal” and hesitates to return the knife to Harry. And that’s not even the weirdest part; Ruth doesn’t bat an eye all throughout the night when she lies back down next to Harry. Talk about creepy. 

It’s only when Ruth lures Harry to a prime spot for treachery is when we think we’ve found the antagonist. However, we’ve only scratched the surface. 

Significant Other

Character Background

One problem we have with Significant Other, though, is the lack of character backgrounds. All we learn is that Ruth struggles with anxiety and that she’s a surfer. Harry is in a masters degree program (or something like that since we only hear about it briefly, one time). 

Obviously we can’t pack that much more into an 84-minute horror film. But since this one has a pretty long, draw-out ending to unpack its sci-fi elements, perhaps it could have shortened that slightly to add more aspects about these two characters that we barely know. 

Because of that, it’s hard to sympathize with Ruth as much as we’d like to. We don’t fully understand why she’s so opposed to spending the rest of her life with her seemingly caring boyfriend. 

And it gets even more difficult to follow her lead after she executes a huge plan that shifts the entire movie into a different playing field. Why should we root for her if we have no idea what kind of person she really is? 

Of course, we learn that in the end, but it would have been better to get a glimpse at small fragments of her strong personality early on, and we’d be even more shocked at her change in behavior later. We’d feel betrayed, and that’s what a brilliant horror film would have. 

Editing & Timeline Choices

Two cinematic aspects that normally don’t have to coincide actually work hand in hand in this movie: the editing and the film’s timeline. 

The camera work is undoubtedly on point throughout the film because, without its sharp cuts, the story wouldn’t unravel as effectively as it does here. The moment when Ruth looks up from her spot on the ground in the cave, we only briefly see her gasp as if she sees something — and then she’s back in the woods staring blankly. 

Clearly, something happened to her, and we’re left hanging on the edge of our seat wondering what on earth she just saw. 

Now here is where the plot timeline works perfectly. We’re left waiting until the very end to find out what really happened in that cave to Ruth. For the second half of the film, we’re wondering whether she was abducted or possessed in some sort of way, or if this is the real her, shocked at something. 

The End Is the Beginning

As for the ending, the film has what feels like a prolonged conclusion. We learn what’s really going on with Ruth and why she made the choices we witnessed. But the grand reveal is overshadowed by some specifics that weren’t completely necessary, like that egg-shaped object in the middle of the beach. Was that really necessary to prove the point? 

The beach scene with Ruth is definitely interesting and nail-biting, especially the shark part, but the first portion of it is swallowed by unbelievable behavior. The enemy we meet is practically laughable at this point; they’re hard to take seriously until after they rise from the ocean. 

Nevertheless, the big finale quickly redeems itself when we uncover the deeper truth of this situation Ruth is in. The CGI is impressive and the psychological terror kicks in as she fights her way out of the problem. But, as with many modern horror stories, we don’t get a fully happy ending. 

Significant Other isn’t perfect, but it’s a revolutionary sci-fi horror. It uses simplicity through its plain setting, limited cast and cinematographic choices to portray a truly unsettling reality for the protagonist — and everyone else. 

In a way, it resembles simplified films such as Backcountry (which also involves a couple in the woods) and Apollo 18. What’s scarier than only having one other person you can trust, and possibly having to leave them behind to survive? Significant Other effectively taps into that human psyche because of how lonely and pressuring that dynamic can feel. 

Significant Other

Significant Other (2022) Official Paramount+ Trailer

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Author

Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.