For some reason, there have been a lot of lo-fi indie thrillers in the past year using the premise of “woman stalked by aggressive man”. Russell Crowe’s Unhinged was the big, dumb Hollywood version of this story and played up its scenario as a trashier version of the Joker premise where the aggrieved man is DEFINITELY the bad guy. Hunted was the woke alternative to this premise that emphasized the horror of male sexual aggression against innocent victims.
Alone is the best version of this premise I’ve seen. It’s also the most obscure version of it. I only heard of the film because of Kyle Smith’s tweet about it.
What makes the best is that it’s the version of the story most rooted in the humane and least driven by wrathful political pandering. This isn’t a story about woman’s archetypical revenge against toxic masculinity. It’s not a film about the horror of antisocial sociopaths who indulge their hatred of society.
Alone is a story rooted firmly in the mundane fear of people. A woman is driving alone on a country road to her new home when she finds herself bumping into the same Jeep repeatedly and starts suspecting that the driver is stalking her.
The film has a very stripped down premise that doesn’t indulge in greater pretense. The story does have some loose themes that frame the premise by suggesting that our lead character Jessica is running away from her life. She’s a recent widow and it’s clear her grief has pushed her to suddenly abandon her life in Portland to build a new one deep in the countryside away from people.
By driving herself away from the protection and comfort in of her loved ones, Jessica has made herself vulnerable to the dangers of the evils lurking at the fringes of society.
Framing it as a stalker story certainly gives it topicality. So much of modern feminism is rooted in the deep existential fear of male power, sexual violence and physical strength. Alone roots it’s conflict and fears in the mundanity evil men’s ability to take advantage of women.
As we come to realize, the fear in this film is rooted primarily in Men’s ability to be powerful yet able to deny their power over women.
Jessica’s early interactions with “the man” are harmless enough but their frequency becomes alarming. It’s clear that she’s in danger almost immediately and the soft face this serial killer puts on to seem normal highlights the implicit danger in these situations. Monsters can get away with being monsters because they’re very good at blending in to polite society. The facade of normalcy is their greatest weapon.
Alone is an excellently made low-budget thriller in that regard! Part of the challenge of low budget filmmaking is finding the tension and horror of situations without being able to show much on screen. This film manages to do with a few actors and a forest what most Hollywood films can’t!