by Patrick Bromley
While perusing titles to review as part of this year's Fantasia Fest, I came across Alone. I knew nothing about it but the title and the fact that it's the latest film from director John Hyams, which was all I need to know. As the filmmaker behind Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Hyams is responsible for two of the best and most audacious action films of the 2000s. I will follow him anywhere. Alone rewards this position.
Jules Wilcox stars as Jessica, a woman moving to a new state following a tragedy in her life. She encounters some trouble with a black truck on the highway (shades of Spielberg's Duel), driving aggressively and seemingly singling her out. Eventually, she meets the driver of the truck (Marc Menchaca), who is trying to be nice but is clearly...off. He keeps finding her every time she stops, until she's finally run off the road and he finds her again, this time making his intentions clear. Now, Jessica will have to use all of her wits and strength to survive both the wilderness and the man who will surely kill her if her gets the chance.
Like several of the films I've seen as part of this year's Fantasia Fest (including The Columnist and Lucky), Alone examines the horror of being a woman who is harassed and attacked by a man. Even before things turn threatening for Jessica, the Man (who is unnamed in the film, because his identity ultimately doesn't matter) won't stop approaching her, won't leave her alone despite her requests that he do so. It's only a matter of time, the movie demonstrates, until that attention turns violent. While there are sympathetic portrayals of men in the film (#NotAllMen), it's clear that the Man is preying on Jessica because of her gender, not because of anything personal. Being a woman alone can be a terrifying experience, one which this film presents in the guise of a thriller that's not all that far off from real life.