Film review: “Alone” is an above average horror flick

The final few weeks of fall tend to be the ideal time to get the blood rushing courtesy of a good horror flick. Horror may seem to some as a chore – an exercise in how much someone can stomach. Every now and again, a tasteful terror-filled title comes along, and this indie horror thrives on simplicity.

John Hyams’ “Alone” is a remake of the 2011 Swedish thriller “Försvunnen” (“Gone”) by writer-director Mattias Olsson. Olsson also wrote this American version of the original film. It was released in mid-September to video on demand.

The film follows Jessica (Jules Willcox), a young widower who is being stalked by a man (Marc Menchaca) as she travels through the forested region of Oregon.

“Alone” is stripped all the way down to bare bones in this classic “woman versus psychopath” arrangement. Both characters’ backgrounds are vague, with not much more than Jessica’s traumatic loss of her husband revealed. The story is neatly divided into sections, intertitled by the different locations the chase takes place. The musical score doesn’t shy away from the minimalist design either, with instrumentation taking a backseat to the natural sounds of the story. 

The vast majority of “Alone” is occupied only by the cat and the mouse. The two leads do not falter one bit, with both performances winning Best Actress and Actor (Feature) at the Mammoth Film Festival in March. With only a few credits to her name, Willcox is no doubt turning a lot of heads her way, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see her tied to a few more big projects in the future.

The cinematography by Federico Verardi is absolutely gorgeous. Highlights include the landscape shots in the opening act as Jessica’s Volvo tears through the winding roads of the Pacific Northwest. The tall trees add to an environment that is both stunning and daunting. 

The premise is formulaic and overall pretty predictable, but that doesn’t stop “Alone” from being an above-average horror-suspense film. At 98 minutes, the film is compact and does not allow any dragging. The environment is immersive, and even as the film is engaging, it is an easy watch that doesn’t exhaust the mind, as some modern, ultraviolent slashers tend to do. 

“Alone” is available to rent through the Fargo Theatre Virtual Cinema at https://fargotheatre.org/2020/09/22/virtual-cinema/. The Fargo Theatre receives 50% of the proceeds.

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