A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alone is a thriller about a lone female traveler named Jessica (Jules Willcox) who's kidnapped and terrorized by a male psychopath (Marc Menchaca). It's technically well made, but it's also unpleasant, with extremely strong violence. Most of the violence is directed at Jessica, including guns/shooting, punching, stabbing, dragging by the hair, and slamming against a wall. A tree branch pierces her bare foot, with blood shown. Her attacker also pummels and shoots another man, drags his body, and buries him. He and Jessica fight using a tire iron and a knife, plus punching and stabbing. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "bitch" and "hell." Jessica smokes on several occasions, and a photograph shows social drinking.
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What's the story?
In ALONE, Jessica (Jules Willcox) is trying to make a fresh start after her husband's death. She packs a U-Haul and starts driving. On a lonely mountain road, she passes a slow-moving truck, which then speeds up and nearly causes an accident. Later, the driver (Marc Menchaca) spots her in a parking lot and tries to apologize, but Jessica is spooked by him. She comes upon the same man having car trouble and, panicked, speeds away. But she loses control of her car, and the man catches up to her and attacks her. She wakes up in a basement as his prisoner. Jessica manages to escape, but between her and safety are the Pacific Northwest woods. Worse, she's barefoot, and her attacker is in pursuit.
Is it any good?
Directed by John Hyams, this lean thriller works more or less in the ways it's supposed to, but it also has a strong sense of vicious cruelty, and it may leave a bad taste in your mouth. Hyams has a strong visual style and a good sense of rhythm, and he puts all of the story's bits and pieces together in just the right way to create white knuckles. But given that the entire story of Alone is about a relentless, psychopathic stalker who's trying to harm an innocent (and already victimized) woman, it just doesn't sit right. Similar but far more controversial exploitation classics like The Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave at least gave their female characters a chance to fight back. In Alone, Jessica is a helpless victim for 95% of the movie.
What's more, viewers are asked to forgive some strange coincidences and silliness. First, it's totally random that Jessica should come upon the slow-driving psychopath in the first place. Does he drive slowly all the time in the hopes that solo women drivers will try to pass him? And how does he always know where she is? How did he manage to cause her eventual car crash in order to capture her? And why is his phone not passcode-protected? Given that Alone starts off by recalling Steven Spielberg's early horror movie Duel, perhaps it should have embraced its killer's supernatural qualities rather than pretend that this is all just happening by chance. It's a shame that lack of care brings down an otherwise well-made thriller.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Alone's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it shocking? Thrilling? Why? How much is directed toward women? How does that affect its impact?
Does Jessica have agency? When and in what ways does she take charge of her fate? How often is she helpless?
Why are viewers often fascinated by movies and stories about psychopaths? What's the appeal of that kind of character?
What happens to the one character who tries to help Jessica? Do you think the phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" is true?
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