John Hyams (director)
28 December 2020 (released)
25 December 2020
The opening few scenes of Alone set up the character of Jessica (Jules Willcox) as she packs her belongings and sets out on a cross country drive in an old Volvo; the tracking of the vehicle as she leaves the city driving through rural and forest areas, with barely any dialogue, just Jessica’s face and landscape. These images and sound convey that something is quite wrong along with her conversations with her parents who appear disconnected lacking empathy. The isolation and pain are palpable and it’s a theme that recurs throughout the film.
It’s as she leaves the city for the open road that she comes up behind a Jeep that won’t let her overtake the apprehension builds as the two jostle on the highway, the Jeep eventually turning off. Only for it to reappear later on as Jessica is filling up, survey the situation and drive off.
While staying in a motel for the night, Jeep-man (played by Marc Menchaca though the character is never named) arrives and sets about apologising profusely. It’s over eager and downright creepy but accepted and Jessica moves on. For him to appear again with the car blocking the road and his arm in sling with the bonnet open. He’s looking for a lift and Jessica (possibly recalling Ted Bundy’s MO) now rattled drives off.
Jessica parks up at an isolated truck stop where Jeep-man turns up again having pursued her now with a much-changed demeanour accusing her of trying to hit him. A clever use of distance and perspectives winds up the tension as the other vehicles depart leaving Jessica and Jeep man, alone. A chase commences which sees Jessica going off the road and knocked out, later waking up a prisoner in Jeep man’s cabin in the forest.
Jessica’s loss forces her to up sticks and leave her home (and probably friends) and her family appear a long way away from her. Even Jeep-man’s later revelations reveal a distancing though in no way can they be used as a justification for his actions. Menchaca is ok in this role chomping with some ripe dialogue later in the film and just about keeping a lid on it. Willcox is ok too in a more complex role that as she fights her way out of captivity with the burden of her bereavement, and that question of if she could have done more weighing on her and likely for ever. The only other character of note is the ever-reliable Anthony Heald as lone hunter Robert who crops up later on. He has little to do but does it well.
Despite a following a fairly well trodden path Alone is well worth your time being a taught and tense thriller with some good performances all round. As hinted at earlier director John Hyams makes excellent use of sound and on a technical level keeps things moving along at a steady pace complementing Mattias Olsson’s writing. The overall arc may be a trifle hackneyed but Olsson gets some traction with the isolation themes, be they people and or locations cleverly weaving them together.
Alone is available on Digital HD from December 28th