[Fantasia 2020] “Alone” review

If you have a long road ahead of you, be careful who you come across. If they keep popping up wherever you go, it just might not be a coincidence. “Alone” made its international premiere at Fantasia Festival’s online edition, and it is jam-packed with stress.

Jessica (Jules Willcox) is on the road for a while with pretty much everything she possesses, starting over after a heartbreaking loss. For different reasons, she keeps bumping into a Man (Mark Menchaca): whether it’s while he’s preventing her from passing him on the road, his car being broken down on the side of the highway the next day, or at a random truck stop, he always seems to coincidentally cross paths with her. Despite doing all the right things, the Man eventually catches up with her and snatches her up. Once captured, Jessica must now try to escape this psychopath and face all of the terror that awaits her… alone.

Written by Mattias Olsson and a directorial veteran in John Hyams (“Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” and “Z Nation” episodes), “Alone” is a typical story of a Man, who remains unnamed despite learning a little about his family life, who stalks and kidnaps a woman to put in his cottage cellar. Creepy thing is, he’s done this before. An interesting aspect of the film is that it is seemingly separated into chapters (including titles) based on environmental challenges affecting Jessica’s difficult journey ahead of her. Speaking of the protagonist, I thoroughly enjoyed that she is finally a main character who we can root for; not only because we appreciate her and feel empathetic for her, but because she is finally someone who, despite being caught, makes all the right decisions contrary to idiotic characters in other films where we’re screaming: “What the f*ck are you DOING?!”

The levels of stress and anxiety climb up pretty high in dangerous situations, combined to a taxing soundtrack courtesy of Nima Fakhrara. And while the violence is cold and impactful, the few special effects related to voluntary or accidental injuries throughout the film are quite appealing and gruesome at once. As for the cast, it isn’t the biggest one, but the two leads do make up an impressive duo. Jules Willcox’s tears and emotional (and physical, while we’re at it) pain are very authentic while Mark Menchaca is the creepiest creep you wouldn’t wanna come across alone on an isolated road. His 80s-ish glasses, his thick mustache, his blank, yet sinister stare, and the cool demeanor when talking to his prey make up quite the chilling concoction. Because who doesn’t enjoy a hair-raising, charismatic villain?

While “Alone” doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of predator-chasing-prey sub-genre, it is definitely effective in terms of keeping you on the edge-of-your-seat while rooting for the main character. An example of a film unsuccessful at this was “Hunted”, also presented at this year’s Fantasia Festival, with a very similar plot, but which got confused in it storyline by trying to add unnecessary elements and not allowing the audience to connect with its protagonist very much. You should have a pleasant time enjoying “Alone” as it receives a score of 7/10.

Article written by SIMON ROTHER

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