In 2020 alone, there are at least 4 full features titled “Alone” with more short films bearing the same title. Whether it’s the side effect of self-quarantine or not, the word ‘alone’ has become an enigmatic choice of title. With movies like Vladisav Keshin’s thriller, Alone, or Johnny Martin’s zombie apocalypse thriller, Alone (based on Matt Naylor’s story, same as South Korea’s #Alive), on the market, it’s easy to get mixed-bag feelings for any other movie with similar title. John Hyams’ Alone, however, is the classic breed of it—a lean, minimalist thriller that stays true to the titular state.
The irony is, despite the title, Alone never leaves the protagonist alone for most of the duration. It begins on the road where a recently widowed woman, Jessica (Jules Willcox), is enroute to her parents’ home in rural Oregon. Broken and devastated, she begins to encounter a mysterious driver on several points during her journey, suggesting that she’s been stalked. From there, Alone guides us to a diabolical road trip—an exhausting, suspenseful, yet minimalist one. It’s a cat-and-mouse thriller through and through.
Related Post: Review: #Alive / #살아있다 / #Saraitda (2020)
Remade from Swedish thriller, Gone (2011)—in which Alone‘s writer, Mattias Olsson penned and co-directed—this thriller is basically divided into 5 chapter. Each is dubbed after the main setting of the action. From a bleak country road to a cabin in the wood, all of them is unnerving and excellent in utilizing the setting to break the nerve even, when sometimes, they feel like a collection of unoriginal ideas. The first chapter is the most unsettling amongst all as it channels the dread from movies like Steven Spielberg’s Duel (1971). The cabin in the wood setting brings back to the claustrophobic feeling of Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. Other chapters, however, falter almost immediately into generic, forgettable thriller tropes.
While each chapter blends seamlessly into a one-way thriller with no point of returns, they still feels episodic. Hyams, however, showcases the prowess to retread his Thriller 101 with the ready-made material. The key to Alone is Jules Willcox’s ever-convincing performance for the whole duration. She’ll break, she’ll survive, she’ll run, she’ll hide, and we can always feel her struggle—whether she caves in to the impending perils or if she decides to fight back.