ALONE (2020) – Decent Thriller Could Use More Thrills

alone

ALONE (2020) is a straightforward thriller about a recently widowed young woman Jessica (Jules Willcox) who finds herself stalked by a strange man (Marc Menchaca). The film’s no frills style keeps things simple, but it also keeps things rather tame.

It’s been six months since Jessica’s husband died, and so she decides it’s time to move on. She packs up her stuff in a U-Haul trailer and hits the road, choosing to do so alone without the help of her parents. It’s on the road where she encounters an annoying car, driving slowly in front of her, which then speeds up as she tries to pass it, nearly getting her killed.

Later, while parked, she spies the same car, and the driver, a man who immediately unsettles her, approaches and offers his apology, citing a lame excuse that he was on his phone and not paying attention to his speed. If this isn’t creepy enough, she sees him again stopped ahead in the middle of the road, his car having broken down. He asks for her assistance, but she wants no part of him. But it’s too late, as this guy is truly as dangerous as she fears him to be, and he has his sights set on her.

ALONE is an okay thriller. Its story is certainly compelling, and I liked the two leads, but it never really became all that exciting for me. I found most of the movie quiet and dull. Tbe best part is the ending, a violent and very physical confrontation between Jessica and her assailant in the mud. This scene gets down and dirty, literally, and is really the one point in the movie where emotions let loose, and we really get to see Jessica draw from her rage and hurt within and let it all out in a brutal fight for her life. It’s the best sequence in the movie.

Jules Willcox is fine as Jessica, a woman who’s still deeply hurt over the loss of her husband and grieving. In fact, she feels alone from the get-go, which is pretty much the theme of this one. The title ALONE refers more to Jessica’s state of mind than a plot point of fighting off an attacker solo.

Marc Menchaca is nice and creepy as the strange man Jessica encounters on the road. He’s convincing as a twisted serial killer who preys on young women, or at least that’s the implication. The film doesn’t delve into his background at all. We know this isn’t the first time he’s done this, and we know that his intentions are murderous. However, for a guy who’s done this before, he struggles with Jessica, as she doesn’t have to work too hard to turn the tables on him, which was a weakness in the story. He’s not the most successful serial killer. But Menchaca is successful at making the character unnerving.

Director John Hyams keeps this one low-key throughout. The direction is as clean and crisp as the northwestern countryside Jessica drives through. There’s nothing gratuitous about this one. It gets in, tells its story, and gets out. The problem is that even at a brief 98 minutes running time, it wasn’t enough to really hold my interest.

The screenplay by Mattias Olsson is just as efficient, with little characterization. I didn’t need to know more about the creepy predator, and so that was fine with me, but I could have learned more about Jessica. We know that she’s grieving, that her husband committed suicide, but other than that, pretty much nothing else is shared. It keeps the story from being more engrossing.

And there just aren’t a whole lot of scenes of suspense other than the general feeling of anxiety knowing that Jessica is being stalked by a dangerous man. While that in itself is upsetting of course, it doesn’t translate into effective movie making on its own. This one could have used something more.

ALONE is a decent thriller that works best as a dark drama because while it features two solid characters and a straightforward lean story it lacks the all important thrills needed to make this kind of movie truly frightening.

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2 thoughts on “ALONE (2020) – Decent Thriller Could Use More Thrills

  1. Having had a very similar experience while travelling across the country with a U-Haul (also alone) where it later turned out a serial killer was indeed at work… I would say this film will speak more to independent women in the audience — the ones whose mothers, family, and society warn about travelling alone and who go anyway with the long shadow of that warning always in their heads. This does reflect what goes on in women’s imaginations moreso than men, so it does not surprise me that men might not feel as apprehensive about that long, slow boil toward the conclusion, But this IS how LIFE is — not so much Hollywood… and so here we have a film that is more for the ladies out there than the men who would protect them…

    Still, an interesting offering…

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