‘Alone’: An Eerie, Frightening, and Fast-Paced Hidden Gem [Video]


Welcome to The Overlooked Motel, a place where under-seen and unappreciated films are given their moment in the spotlight. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations to be suitable. Now, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable; I have some misbehaving guests to ‘correct.’   

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Today’s selection is a film that flew under the radar upon release, debuting in a handful of US theaters during the COVID lockdown in 2020. The flick did gain a certain amount of traction as a VOD rental, but it still remains under-seen by the masses. I am speaking of John Hyams’ intense psychological horror thriller, Alone

The film follows Jessica (Jules Willcox) as she packs up her belongings following the untimely death of her husband. Along her journey, she is nearly run off the road by a discourteous motorist (Marc Menchaca). After that encounter, the driver continues to pursue Jessica, eventually abducting her and holding her captive. Much to the chagrin of her captor, Jules proves to be resourceful and completely unwilling to sit back and play the role of hapless victim. 

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Alone delivers high levels of suspense from the onset. It benefits from the inclusion of a sadistic villain, a resilient lead, and a barrage of nonstop action sequences that unfold at a breakneck pace. The feature begins as a road horror movie, segues into captivity horror during the second act, and ultimately concludes as a wilderness survival horror picture. With each act dealing with a slightly different subgenre, the film could easily have come across as clunky. But Hyams brings cohesion to the collective whole by imbuing each of the three acts with a similar frenetic energy that lends cohesion to the finished product. Accordingly, the shifts feel almost incidental, rather than jarring and disruptive.  

The editing enhances the tension inherent to the setup. Alone is spliced together with the intent of making the audience uncomfortable, often forcing the viewer to endure extended shots that force us to stare down the film’s nameless antagonist (Marc Menchaca). His empty gaze instills a sense of discomfort and an urge to look away. 

Menchaca is nothing short of inspired in his portrayal of the film’s antagonist. We receive no real context explaining his fixation with Jessica. But that adds a certain mystique. He has seemingly picked her at random for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, fostering the realization that she could be any one of us. 

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The random nature of the antagonist’s selection process coupled with Menchaca’s sinister portrayal of a violent sociopath had me on edge. At one point, we see him cheerfully whistling while he searches for Jessica in the dark of night, amidst heavy rainfall. His ability to remain calm and collected in such a high-stakes situation gives the impression that he is a calculated predator, detached from conventional human emotions. That distinction scared me more than any other facet of Alone.  

It becomes further apparent that the perpetrator is psychotic when we see him talking to his family on the phone, putting on a facade. Knowing that he can so effortlessly hide his endeavors from those that love him is chilling. It’s evident he feels no guilt and can put on a convincing disguise to mask the monster that lives inside him. 

Jules Willcox also turns in a highly effective showing as Jessica. Screenwriter Mattias Olsson is owed credit for scripting her as resourceful and capable. But Wilcox brings her to life in a nuanced performance that gives the viewer an idea of the grief she carries with her. She doesn’t come out and say it, more so than we can see it written all over her face. We can see that she’s broken and beaten down. But she casts that inner turmoil aside in the hopes she can outrun the associated discomfort.

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The way the unhinged motorist pursues Jessica serves as a fitting metaphor for what happens when one tries to escape grief. Just like unprocessed trauma, the killer is always right behind her, in hot pursuit. 

The metaphor is relatively subtle and feels organic to the narrative.  So many filmmakers have tried to speak to grief and loss in the wake of Hereditary and so many have fallen short of the standard set by Ari Aster’s masterpiece. But Alone isn’t derivative grief porn. This is a masterfully suspenseful horror thriller that also offers a valid assessment of the dangers of running from uncomfortable feelings. In that sense, the film isn’t really a meditation on grief at all, more so than a commentary on the dangers of trying to escape it.  

If you haven’t yet seen, Alone, I highly recommend giving it a look. It is an intense affair with strong performances and a menacing antagonist. If you’re curious to check it out, you can stream Alone on Hulu, as of the publication of this post. 

That’s all for this installment of The Overlooked Motel. If you want to chat more about under-seen and underrated films, feel free to hit me up with your thoughts on Threads @FunWithHorror.



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