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Thursday, August 27, 2020

[Fantasia Review] ‘Alone’ Is a Survival Thriller at Its Simplest

More often than not, there’s safety in numbers. Being alone can make you vulnerable to predators, human or otherwise. If you’re female, traveling alone at night can be downright perilous. The fittingly titled Alone takes that concept and runs with it. The latest by director John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) puts its central character through the physical and emotional wringer, attempting to capture white-knuckle suspense through a survival thriller at its most minimalistic.

A remake of 2011’s Swedish film GoneAlone introduces us to Jessica (Jules Wilcox), a woman leaving her past behind by packing up and moving across the Pacific Northwest. Early into her winding road trip across rural Oregon, she has a bizarre run-in with another driver, a man (Marc Menchaca) that initially seems harmless and friendly enough but keeps popping up at the same places. Jessica’s instincts that something is seriously amiss prove correct when the Man drops his pleasant façade, and his psychotic nature takes over. It becomes a fight for survival, not just against this sinister stranger, but against the wild elements. Far removed from civilization, Jessica will have to dig deep to make it out alive.

Hyams aims for absolute simplicity with this suspense story. Penned by Gone’s co-director and writer Mattias OlssonAlone wastes no time getting straight to it. Jessica’s already loading her U-haul trailer and hitting the road at the opening, a phone conversation with her father hinting at the dynamics that prompted her relocation. Mere minutes later, the inciting road incident that puts her in the Man’s crosshairs takes over, creating a cat and mouse chase that becomes increasingly violent and dangerous.

While the film focuses almost solely on Jessica and the Man, Alone favors tension over plot and characterization. The script offers just enough information about our characters to keep the momentum moving, but not enough to provide any depth. We learn the motivations behind both leads, but not enough to obtain rooting interest; this movie tells us why we should care, but never bothers to show us. There are quick glimpses into Jessica’s past or the Man’s background, but they’re fleeting and sparse. Instead, the focus remains on the thriller elements and action sequences.

Hyams knows how to build suspense, and the initial build-up between Jessica and the Man is unnerving. Once it explodes into violence, it’s a briskly paced actioner unafraid to get bleak and brutal. The gorgeous wilderness setting and Federico Verardi‘s cinematography gives this thriller a slick polish.

Despite the talents of Wilcox and Manchaca and riveting moments of breathless tension, Alone’s biggest hindrance is that it strips away too much of itself in its bid for chilling simplicity. Its lack of identity undermines everything that works about Alone. In a genre packed full of survival thrillers far removed from civilization, nothing sets this apart from the rest. Alone doesn’t seem to have anything new to say, making it hard to stay engaged when we’ve seen this story before.

For those looking for easy thrills and a brutal fight to survive, Alone offers gorgeous violence featuring two competent leads. Hyams knows how to draw tension, escalate it, and keep things moving at a brisk pace. But his work is shackled by a familiar, barebones script that ultimately feels incomplete. What’s meant to be Jessica overcoming her grief through a harrowing baptism by fire instead becomes hollow happenstance. It’s enough to enjoy the ride while it lasts, but not enough to stick with you past the end credits. 

Alone releases on VOD on September 18, 2020.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3627882/fantasia-review-alone-survival-thriller-simplest-embargo-lifts-8-27-930pm-est/

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