Released in the last week of 2020, Alone delivers a taut thrilling ride with two killer leads and instantly became one of our favourite films of the last twelve months.
There is nothing on offer here that is fresh or new to the genre. Its a storyline that we have seen countless times before, for example it shares a lot in common with the much bigger box-office draw Unhinged, that saw Russell Crowe do his best psycho impression.
The difference between Alone and Unhinged is that while the latter is more glossy and has the star power, this tale of thrills by director John Hyams is more downbeat, gritty and the dirty feel of it all, makes this a much more enjoyable experience.
In what is more or less a battle of wits between an impressive cast of virtually two people with Jessica (Jules Willcox) and a stranger (Marc Manchaca) delivering a pitch perfect performance that is up there with the best of the year, there is so much to enjoy with the lean mean running time, that you simply can not take your eyes off what is happening.
Plot-wise its simple. Jessica, mourning the loss of her husband, packs her stuff into her car and trailer and leaves on a long journey for a fresh start. Its road that makes her cross paths with another driver who does not take too kindly to be overtaken, in a scene that oozes vibes of “Duel” and gives us a taster of the intensity of what is to come.
Later on, when Jessica sees the same car with its own creepy motor noise slowly drive past her then the alarm bells start to go off, even more so when a stranger approaches her the next day, his arm in a sling which is always a no go for anyone who has seen a horror film.
Its here that ALONE is terrific. Its obvious that Jessica has issues and the tension the film brings out in its the first chapter – we get four chapters thanks to captions on the screen-is a joy as we not quite sure where the film is heading, more so if its all in Jessica’s head.
Of course when the film finally reveals its hand, it will come to no surprise for anyone, but that doesn’t stop from you shouting at the screen, wanting certain things to happen and to see this woman who has clearly gone through enough hurt and trauma, to once more find that strength to fight some more.
The fact Jessica does all the right things in this, helps the story along as there is no dumb moments to make us sigh at the screen and the fact that Menchaca displays the right creepiness, elevates the suspense, with one scene in particular in which he takes a phone call, that brings a sense of dread as it proves that even monsters have a normal life, somewhere, out there.
In a year when 2020 has offered so little in terms of material, ALONE ends the year with a much wanted blast of energy and is one of the best survivalist tales that have been released in recent times…..