Alone (2020) follows a young woman who packs up and leaves home following the suicide of her husband, and soon finds herself terrorized by a strange man while on the road.
Firstly, we want to thank Telluride Horror Show for this awesome opportunity to jump in early on one of the films for the upcoming 2020 festival! As THS will be virtual this year, we are all offered access to two advance screenings as a rehearsal of the event (Alone was the first, and the second is 12 Hour Shift on September 29th). The advance screening ran smoothly and perfectly and bodes well for the virtual festival to come! You can check out their Facebook page for more updates! We can't wait for this year's THS, even if it comes with the collective sadness that we can't all meet together in beautiful Telluride itself. The first wave of films should be coming out soon, and we'll be on top of it to go through our most anticipated films on here and on our podcast!
There are about 20 movies titled Alone, maybe even since the year 2000. Since it's easy for this film to get lost in the shuffle, let's break down the synopsis...A woman with recent trauma is kidnapped by a dangerous man and must attempt to escape him before she is killed. This may have helped you differentiate Alone from the 20 other similarly titled films, but it is now tossed into another pond in which that plot sounds like any number of other thrillers. And unfortunately, Alone struggles to set itself apart in its new pond.
There is plenty to like in Alone. The cinematography has a handful of unique shots that help to build tension and tell a layered story between the dialogue and what is happening in the surrounding scene. There are a few tight shots that help build genuine uneasiness. One in particular introduces the antagonist of our tale and establishes the fear we should have for him in an otherwise creepy but ultimately harmless scene. This uncomfortable atmosphere grows fairly effectively over the course of the film, with an engaging but utterly familiar progression. In fact, there is virtually nothing at all unique about the plot. All of its success lies in its execution and all of its failures are found in its lack of originality.
The acting is quite good. The two leads (Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca) do a great job in their respective roles. Willcox's character's tortured, melancholy soul that must be reborn in blood to fight again is engaging and relatable. Menchaca embraces his appearance as a serial killer/rapist tragically well, taking the role as far as it can go, with a performance that screams "typecasting" for any film he may appear in after. The power of their dynamic carries any substance the film may burden, but the rest is too lightweight and flittering to be distinct from a hundred other films. It's not that the stakes of people's lives aren't high enough, it's that these exact same stakes have been displayed before in the exact same way.
So we are left with a film that has power within the realm of its solid directing, great acting, and decent (if briefly uneven) script. But its successes are in spite of its own unoriginality. It is the poster child for a film you will mildly enjoy while watching, not regret having watched it when the credits roll, then forget it in about a week. I've seen worse, especially recently with the lack of depth in new(ish) films, so by comparison, Alone more than holds its own. And as far as overall quality, I can see why Telluride Horror Show would curate it as its pre-festival kickoff film to test the virtual platform that will inevitably be used. It's a great appetizer before the main course!
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10 Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 6/10