(director: John Hyams; screenwriter: Mattias Olsson; cinematographer: Federico Verardi; editor: Scott Roon/John Hyams; music: Nima Fakhrara; cast: Jules Willcox (Jessica Swanson), Anthony Heald (Robert), Jonathan Rosenthal (Eric), Marc Menchaca (Unnamed Stalker), Betty Moyer (Mom), Shelly Lipkin (Dad); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Jonathan Rosenthal/Jordan Foley/Mike Macan/Henrik JP Åkesson; Magnet Releasing; 2020)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
“Alone” is an improved remake of an unappealing 2011 (“Torsvunnen”) Swedish thriller. It’s directed with sparse dialogue and a gripping tenseness by the American John Hyams (“Dragon Eyes”/”Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning”), who divides it into 5 chapters. It’s ably written by Mattias Olsson (who wrote the original). He keeps the story basic and chilling. It’s set in the Oregon wilderness, where an unnamed psychopath (Marc Menchaca) is pursuing an angst-filled recently widowed woman named Jessica (Jules Willcox), who because of the loss of her husband is leaving Portland to go live with her nagging parents in rural Oregon. She has packed her stuff in a small U-Haul trailer. While she slowly drives on a nearly deserted two-lane wilderness highway, she’s maliciously tailgated by an angry guy in a black SUV. Playing games, he gets ahead of her and then slows down. When she tries passing he speeds up as a passing truck nearly hits her. She’s shaken up and pulls over to the side. The next day at the motel parking lot, the rude driver apologizes in a falsely polite way but in a way that she hopes can end any danger.
It’s set-up is a reminder of Spielberg’s “Duel,” until it takes a different turn.
The pursuer who has a thick blonde mustache and a sinister whistle, has no intention of leaving her alone and tries various ways of meeting her during her tense journey.
As the film is filled with continuous suspense at every turn, the damsel-in-distress must prove she has an instinct for survival. By chance she’s aided by a hunter (Anthony Heald), but as we expect she’ll have to in the end confront the bad dude by herself. He keeps getting into her business and can’t be shaken off, and will kidnap her.
REVIEWED ON 9/22/2020 GRADE: B