Did it ever happen to you to struggle sleeping and turning on a random movie to try and relax? That’s exactly what I did with the 2020 American psychological thriller Alone. I had no anticipation for this low-budget movie from first-time (feature) director Vladislav Khesin, born in Russia 1994 (!).
However, I decided to give it a chance because I love psychological horror-thrillers, thus I always find something to enjoy even in the ones that aren’t exactly great movies. Also, I wanted to support a young filmmaker by spreading the word about his first horror flick. What’s Alone about, then?
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Alone – plot & storytelling
I don’t say this often, but this is a very weird horror-thriller. That depends heavily on the plot and the narrative structure of Alone. As the film begins, we see a writer who seeks peace and looks for gaining her inspiration back in a cabin in the woods, after having gone through a traumatic experience that left her blind. The woman, however, is constantly on the edge in the new house as well, since she hears noises and witnesses strange occurrences in the cabin. Then, all of the sudden, the movie switches from her to a group of college students going to the same cabin and finding it completely empty. What’s going on? How are the two stories going to intertwine?
Alone does something that, on paper, could be very interesting and awesome: it keeps going back and forth between the group of teens and the blind woman, providing new titbits of information each time it focuses on either one of the storylines. In fact, what I honestly loved about this movie is that, in the first hour or so, the mystery is built in a very clever way, with the aforementioned information being delivered with no lazy exposition. For some viewers this may be confusing, but you just have to pay attention and pick up on details to understand that everything does make sense.
Squandering potential & redeeming aspects
Unfortunately, either the director or the writers (or maybe all of them) didn’t have enough faith the audience’s intelligence, as the last 20 minutes of Alone – without spoiling them – are basically a montage recapping everything that happened in the previous hour and making everything so obvious it becomes insulting. This is by far the biggest flaw with Alone, as the last 20 minutes aren’t just an insult to the audience, but they also feel forced in just to make the movie reach an acceptable runtime.
That said, and as I was saying before, the first hour of Alone features some solid aspects to it, considering the movie’s low budget and the crew’s inexperience. Aside from the compelling storytelling, this flick benefits from some truly intense moments that neither hold back nor are predictable. The camera work is rather creative, which helps the flow of the movie; makeup and gore effects are very convincing and, in combination with the clever use of light and shadows, they can be effective and squeamish at times. The actress who plays the blind woman isn’t just well cast, she’s also able to be both creepy and sympathetic depending on what the script requires from her.
“Characters” and Conclusion
Despite the lead’s acting, every other performance in the movie is incredibly amateur (even though Bailey Coppola, Nicolas Cage’s nephew, is quite hilarious to watch): whether this is the actors’ or the director’s fault I really can’t tell, but the result is rather dreadful. Unfortunately, none of the actors really had a character to play, as the movie doesn’t make any effort in terms of characterisation. Yet, due to the extremely fast pacing, the viewer can barely understand who is who, let alone their motivations. Both sound-editing and sound-mixing are quite jarring, as they often seem to be poorly polished and very muffled.
Given budget restraints and lack of experience, Alone could’ve been much worse than it was. This movie features some interesting concepts and a few very effective sequences, topped with interesting camera-work and solid visuals. For these reasons, I would really love for Vladislav Khesin to work on a bigger project without losing creative control. Nonetheless, Alone has more negative aspects than positive ones: it’s a film that would hardly please anyone, thus I can’t really recommend it.
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Francis P. Giovanni N. Ibrahim W.Z. Kati J. Rose L. Kathrine D. Michael P. Ronald R. Lee J.K. Desmond F. Jimmy R.D. Arthur D. Ivano L. Helena F. LaMarcus T. Roger D. Jimmy F. Anonymous Carol P. Robert T.U. Mad Sin Cinema Kurt D. Benoit G. Sidy Q. Robert G. Marco L.M. Julio C.P. Pu T. Tikunpon D. Leroy D. Saoirse N. Ricardinho Mark T. Gioia D. Lula Q.