Fantasia Festival 2020: Alone (2020)

Alone (2020)


Director: John Hyams

Cast: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal

A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her. – IMDB

Being an American remake of 2011 Swedish film Gone, Alone is co-directed and written by its original source material. Alone is a simple thriller. It strips itself back to its basics while keep sounds mostly blending with the nature surrounding the characters, the cast kept limited to mostly the two main leads in a cat and mouse chase and the setting in an isolated forest that goes through different weather, phases and structured in swift chapters defining the different landmarks of the film.

Alone starts off with a rather slower first act. It consists of the main female lead, Jessica (Jules Willcox) making the decision to pack up after a tragedy much to the disapprovement from her family. Her story reveals itself over the course of the movie as she fights her grief and guilt and tries to survive from this unknown Man (Marc Menchaca that is hunting her down. The first act is incredibly strong especially having strong vibes of Duel as The Road part of the film sees her having this risky and eerie engagement with a muddy Jeep that she encounters and then follows her around. Unlike Duel, the Man approaches her in various instances and the conversations get more and more unsettling.

The strongest elements of the film does go to its main leads. Jessica and the Man play incredibly well off of each other. Their interaction and the chase between them heightens over the course of time. At the same time there is still a lot of subtlety. The two characters are dialed down to their absolute basics of one that is hunting and the other that is surviving. However, these characters also have enough backstory in little glimpses of phone calls or conversations that make them feel real.

The cinematography plays a big part in this film. It has many moments that feels like its almost comparable to David Fincher with the use of visuals and lighting. It might have to do with the fact that the film heightens a lot during the nighttime that the use of lights flare and the focus on dim lighting and how the film crafts the motion all comes into play. The isolated nature and not being scared to use darkness to its advantage adds onto the tension.

Overall, Alone is a well-executed thriller. Its not about all the fancy things and actually its at its best when the film focuses on being zeroed in on the characters interaction and the chase as well as using its environment to create the atmosphere and tension. The only part if I had to nitpick would be the parts of increasing in the background sound that builds at certain points of the films at times feels like it actually takes away from the tension a little and breaks from the subtlety that it works with. Luckily, its not too frequent. Sometimes less is more and Alone definitely applies that successfully.