You Won’t Want to Watch Alone (2020) By Yourself
First Wide Release: September 18, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: John Hyams
Writer: Mattias Olsson
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Starring: Jules Wilcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After the sudden death of her husband, Jessica (Jules Wilcox), packs up her life and begins the long journey of moving across the country for a fresh start. She opts to tell her parents after she has already left to ensure that they don’t convince her to stay. Early on, she gets into a tense altercation with another driver. Eventually they both meet up in a town later that night where the driver (Marc Menchacca) apologizes to her. That doesn’t alleviate the feeling Jessica has that she is being stalked by this man. Eventually, her suspicions are confirmed as he relentlessly follows and eventually kidnaps her. Battling against the harsh elements of the vast forest and the cruel focus and manipulation of the man, Jessica must fight for her survival.
Alone is a pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat horror film laced with strong performances and unadulterated suspense.
Every moment in this film feels meticulously plotted and planned, much like how this psychopath stalks his prey in seemingly vulnerable women. Lingering camera shots and intense close-ups give the film a confining feeling, which is incredible considering the story takes viewers on a perilous journey through the woods. Adding to this claustrophobic cinematography, there is a continued motif of Jessica making herself smaller whenever confronted by the killer, in an effort to hide herself. It’s played out over so many times: in the cell, behind trees, in a trunk, under water, and when this theme is broken it’s so satisfying.
Cut into five different sections, Alone shows Jessica’s journey into regaining control of this situation and her life. Not much in the way of dialogue, more attention is paid to facial contortions and body language to portray the menacing terror onscreen. Tense, even from the beginning, this uncomfortable feeling that something is terribly wrong persists throughout the entire film before crescendoing into a violent showdown that pits two great wits against each other. I’m a personal fan of the final blow for how perfect it fits the film and its message.
To me, the big social commentary revolves around expectations of women when they are alone. Alone works as a descriptor for Jessica’s current state, as in, while the film is happening on the road, Jessica is physically by herself. It extends deeper to also show that her relationship with her parents is strained and that her husband has died. She feels mentally and emotionally alone. This vulnerability is exploited by the Man, who represents predatory men. Unassuming and even charming on the outside, with a wife and kid at home, he harbors homicidal tendencies and sexual deviancy.
Jessica “does everything right.” She is polite but not too friendly when approached by the Man. She goes out of her way to avoid his car on the road when he messes with her. She never opens her window too wide. She unhitches the trailer when it's dead weight. She calls for help. She changes her patterns. She observes her surroundings and acts accordingly. She does all of this and is still victimized. Furthermore, she makes plenty of great decisions later on, outsmarting and out-maneuvering someone with more experience and less injuries.
An unbearably tense cat-and-mouse thriller, Alone is easily one of the most intense films from 2020. Lingering camera shots, sparse dialogue, and nail-biting suspense culminate in one drawn-out chase sequence that spans miles of dense, unpopulated forest. At this point, I would mention my issues with the film and honestly, Alone doesn’t have many. Aside from minor plot issues, my only complaint is that it could have gone further with the characterizations of its leads and relied less on plot conveniences to aid in the development of the story. Regardless, if that’s all I can come up with against this film you know you’re in for a good ride.
A frightening and intense film, Alone will catch you off guard. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and I absolutely loved it. While it is light on actual plot and substantial dialogue, it makes up for it with rousing chase scenes and deep social commentary about gender in society. I didn’t check it out at the end of 2020 and I fully regret that decision. Alone is a fantastically shot and directed survival thriller that does not get the recognition it deserves. Watch it today!
Overall Score? 7.5/10