Road thrillers are a fun subgenre with few flaws, and while many prefer electrifying action sequences and crazy charm with their recently released psychotic attackers Alone relies on a secluded, woody environment and an emotionless feel to drag the audience on a grimmer path to survival.
Given that we are still deep in the rigorous streaming phase of movies that will continue unpredictably, I am grateful for anything new and interesting that comes up on a platform I use. Alone Recently, Hulu popped up and, in the worst case scenario, felt like a conventional psycho-chase thriller that passes the time. It’s darker, creepier and of course stylistically cooler than a look at the plot summary suggests.
Alone is a brutally intense stalker thriller with well-known anecdotes, but a particularly cold tone and approach that leads to a darkly gripping view. Director John Hyams, who has a long history of directing television, is caught in a web of thrills so aggressive it feels like a different movie from act to act. What starts as duel-esque street chase turns into a desolate victim trapped in the basement saga of a sadistic bastard only to return to a violent run of a psychological thriller. What remains constant is the overwhelming sense of emptiness, aided by a secluded setting and a creepy minimal score that mostly contains just sounds of nature and breath. There is no charm or emotion in any of Alone’s characters. No sparks of life in any interaction. Very few comedic moments to ease the load, unless it’s strictly dry and dark. To his credit Alone is as vibrant as a movie, as lifeless as it could be, and the sick rawness of everything is exciting.
Jessica (Jules Willcox) is a young, recently widowed writer who escapes town to heal and work on a novel. While driving through the Pacific Northwest, she is tormented by a ruthless driver. After a game of cat and mouse, the man behind the wheel (Marc Menchaca) is an emotionless guy who miserably fails to turn on the psychopathic fake charm, eventually capturing Jessica and keeping her in the basement of his remote cabin. After their escape, the hunt for Jessica is on again. The psycho who chases them is smarter than she could have imagined and ready to take out anyone who disturbs his hunt.
Reading the Alone Synopsis, you have to recognize everyday tropes here. You’re present on this excruciatingly tense journey, but these age-old, action-increasing twists all have a uniquely mean torch. It’s one hopeless event after another for poor Jessica, who we’re mainly interested in on principle. She is a sad young woman who has come to terms with a terrible tragedy and only drives to clear her mind. Now she’s going through hell. She fought for her life through a heartless, evil sneak who couldn’t bother to crack a joke or chat every now and then.
Jessica, however, is not one to feel deeply about beyond the obviously tragic circumstances. Our resident psychotic stalker / nameless killer, played by the talented Marc Menchaca, isn’t one to be fond of either. Some writers and directors go the route of “making this guy an oddly likable nut” or try to give a murderer some hilariously redeeming qualities. Not the writing / directing team of Mattias Olsson and John Hyams. This psycho is a dead in the eyes, angry idiot. The others we see in this wooded struggle for survival are just farmers in the game, though Hunter Robert (Anthony Heald) is a sweet and compelling character who brings a brief moment of the heart to the film.
Early on, we get involved in a potentially deadly street game that spurs an exciting sequence. We are thrilled to meet this widow-torturing madman behind the wheel. Considering old movies that previously dealt with this crazy agonizing stranger on the street play i.e. duel, The hitcher, or mental breakdownIt is believed that a viciously colorful character is ready to show itself.
Step into an uncharismatic, mayonnaise-tinged crawl with a mustache and pedo glasses.
Our Man in Alone is anything but colorful, but his repulsive separation from feeling, his gross manipulation and the mild transmission of heartless thoughts soon become decisive for the ice-cold intensity of the film.
When the persecution is held in captivity, the tone begins to make more sense and work effectively. No matter where you rate them on the compelling scale, you can’t help but root enthusiastically for someone’s survival when they’re locked in a mad man’s basement. I admit the film hits a disturbing pause in the midst of the cabin lock. SawSimilar torture area seems possible, which would have completely deterred me from an initially rousing scenic chase. Instead, the mustache psycho-stalker chooses to be a madman who grabs Jessica and whispers a lot. While it’s a bit of a crawl, making up the overall worrying factor, the momentum shift can take a viewer out if they’re not fully engaged.
Fortunately, Alone is on his way again and meandering shots of silent, endless forests give the thrill of the hunt a hopeless cold. Jessica is a fighter and resourceful. The man with the mustache is an intriguing bad son of a bitch who won’t give up. The relentless need to kill and the relentless will to live make for a rigid journey with dark surprises and shockingly brutal moments. Hyam manages the long game of strategic control of survival – exciting but meticulous to keep things scary when fear is high.
The final third of the film contains a dramatically increased level of violence and a formidable battle between the two characters, for whom things have become more personal. Even though Alone boosts the energy to high voltage as it approaches, it stays true to the gray shape and avoids synthesizers or dramatic sounds. A touch of light chimes is enough to keep the mood tense.
Jules Willcox and Marc Menchaca are great as Jessica and the Madman. Jessica finds her way from terribly sad to terribly scared, dejected, but hell-bent on killing a man. Jules tackles this area and makes Jules the smart survivor you want to see for revenge. As a character, Jessica lost her zest for life at the beginning of the film, so it’s hard to really love her. And what can you say for Marc as a psycho? He does a stand-up job as the emptiness of all emotion, uncomfortable madman who keeps women trapped in a remote cubicle. Is it threatening and a little scary? For sure. That’s all we can ask for. Do I usually like wilder behavior or more wisecracks from my kidnapping madmen? Yeah, but maybe I’m just old school.
AloneAll in all, it’s a fun, somber version of the standard pursued by a crazy thriller. It follows the general blueprint, though shot through a grayer lens, with brute force, new thrills, and fewer frills. This is shown on the more agonizing side of car chases, and maybe it isn’t a movie you will resort to to enjoy all over again. It is clear that there isn’t much to be felt throughout the whole of the watching, other than relying on expected vengeance. As it is, Alone is an eerie thrill ride with decent graphics, a few bumps, and an interesting heartlessness.
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