Alone stars Jules Wilcox and Marc Menchaca and is directed by John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning). The film is an official selection of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival and made its International Premiere on August 27, 2020.
Jessica (Jules Wilcox) is picking up the pieces of her life, after her husband’s death, and has packed up to rebuild her life in her hometown. On the long, lonely highways of the Pacific Northwest she keeps encountering the same man (Marc Menchaca). At first, a close brush with a car accident makes her fearful that he’s targeting her for some kind of road rage incident. Even when these fears subside… something just doesn’t seem right. What comes next is a fight against time, the elements, and a relentless pursuer.
Alone is a gripping story of survival and the fighting spirit. The plot is minimalist and straightforward, but Alone as a viewing experience is anything but basic. The film is able to deftly play at emotions and keeps the viewer in a state of heart-pounding anxiety from start to finish. It’s a masterwork of tension and raw emotion.
With subject-matter surrounding pursuit and kidnapping, the excitement and intensity comes built into the script but Alone takes it one step farther. The first act of the film is not the story of fight or flight, not just yet. The tension of the film slowly builds on a note of paranoia and fear. Jessica is a character in distress, escaping from her personal demons. As we experience her paranoia over the strange man that keeps popping up in unexpected places, the audience begins to have its own doubts. Is this man really a threat? Is she just finding patterns and choosing to be afraid?
As a female viewer, the film’s portrayal of paranoia and that “gut feeling” that something is off about someone hit very close to home and created a unique and impactful brand of horror. Allowing the film to dwell in that relatable feeling of having someone set off your alarm bells before diving into the deep end of a kidnapping and survival scenario was perfect. Even as the film jumped off into its kidnapping and escape story, Alone continued to use themes of paranoia to build an even more complex story. In a scenario where every snapping twig could betray a pursuer’s location, Alone created heart-stopping thrills and “hold your breath” dread.
Alone, at times, followed a predictable beat but this critic does not take that as a negative. The film was not predictable in that the viewer knew every step that was coming. Rather, the film presented two clear paths and courses for the characters to take. The choices of those actors led to an expected, but still horrifying unfolding of events.
The phenomenal storytelling elements of Alone are bolstered on truly gorgeous cinematography and stellar performances. The wooded Pacific Northwest setting of the film was captured in sprawling beauty. The world felt vast, making Jessica’s escape seem impossible and the hunt for her all the more terrifying. Marc Menchaca, in his nameless role as the pursuing Man, was delightfully devoid of any other emotion and operated on a raw hunter’s instinct. Truly terrifying as a villain and grounded in a realism that made him even more frightening. This unassuming psycho could be your next door neighbor…
As for Jules Wilcox, she is to be commended for creating one of the very best and badass final girls of the year. She’s strong. She’s a fighter. Watching her scrap and fight like hell to survive was one of the most empowering, “stand up and cheer” experiences this critic has had with a film, in recent memory. Incredibly well done.
Alone is equal parts terrifying and empowering. You can’t help but root for our heroine and our villain sends shivers down the spine. It’s a perfect combo of great characters, expertly portrayed, in a tense, heart-pounding thrill ride. I can’t recommend it enough!
Alone is intended for select theaters and On Demand, on September 18, 2020.
Movie Score: 4.5/5