Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…a slick, engaging, well acted and effectively directed little thriller.
As blockbuster after blockbuster pushes its release date back until 2021 and beyond – a result of bloated budgets requiring billion dollar plus box office hauls just to turn a profit – smaller, smarter films with less demanding bottom lines reign supreme in the cinema. The latest example of this is Alone, a stripped back, lean and effective thriller that may just be a tad too familiar to be considered a classic.
Alone tells the story of Jessica (Jules Wilcox), a recently widowed woman who is driving a U-Haul trailer across the United States to visit her dad. Along the way she keeps running into The Man (Marc Menchaca), who first appears to be an obnoxious dickhead on the road, then an apologetic weirdo and then something far, far worse. Something, in fact, that could mean Jessica’s death. And that’s it. That’s the premise in all its simple elegance. The small cast, the short runtime and the initial emphasis on road travel all make Alone feel like the classic Spielberg thriller Duel (1971), which was light on exposition but chockers with slow building tension. So too is Alone, with most of the film unsaddled by endless monologues or chatty sequences, with director John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) wisely letting the action speak for itself.
Of course, a film like Alone is nothing without great performances. And while Jules Wilcox acquits herself extremely well in the lead role, it’s Marc Menchaca’s creepy, nuanced performance as the deranged stalker that’s truly memorable. From the first moments where he’s apologising for his poor driving etiquette, to his undermining of Jessica in later scenes, he’s a truly despicable villain and you can’t wait to see him bested.
Alone is a slick, engaging, well acted and effectively directed little thriller. It certainly won’t win any points for originality, and at times its beats are a little too familiar, but a couple of stellar performances, a subtle mastery of mood and a genuinely cathartic climax all combine to create a very solid night out at the movies. Although, just quietly, it’s probably best to see Alone with someone else.
Also available to rent on Foxtel and Fetch.