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ALONE gets 5/10 In the woods


Directed by John Hyams
Starring Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald
Network: Foxtel / Fetch

5/10

Alone doesn’t have many characters, many locations, or even too much dialogue. You might think that a horror film stripped back to its essence might accentuate the horror. But this ascetic approach to the genre fails Alone, instead making it a completely dry, bland, and mostly dull horror-thriller.

The most nervous woman in the world, Jessica (Jules Willcox), is moving house, travelling across the country to a more forest-y area. She has a number of encounters with a fellow driver on the road (Marc Menchaca), each one escalating in hostility and potential danger. Jessica immediately has grave suspicions about this creepy-looking man, and she turns out to be completely right – he’s a serial killer on the loose!

Right from the first encounter, the film seems to be highly involved in engineering the “tense” moments which makes them more laughable than suspenseful. Jessica is a bit like a placeholder protagonist, an empty vessel for the audience to project themselves onto (rather than being an actual character). She’s timid and unsure of her predicament, but there’s little character development as she manages her ordeals with this killer because much of it is more due to luck rather than intelligence or tact.

Alone is a feature film version of the “final girl” trope, so it’s easily comparable to any movie moment like that from the plethora of slasher films. However, Alone doesn’t have the conviction to elevate or elaborate on this trope – it simply presents it in a highly minimalistic and unsatisfying manner with hardly much at all to gather from the surface or even the substance.

Just like with many slashers, Alone will have you yelling at the screen about the leading lady’s stupidity as she tries to evade her situation (even though it never seems to end as bad as it should). But unlike other slashers, Alone has little blood beating through it. It avoids the campy and gratuitous nature slashers usually have, but in opting for restrained art-house minimalism, it ultimately just comes across as unsure of itself.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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