Alone (2020) is wilderness horror done right

Alone - Courtesy Magnet Releasing
Alone - Courtesy Magnet Releasing /

Everything in Alone, a 2020 horror thriller film directed by John Hyams, is something we’ve seen many times before. A woman becomes trapped in the wilderness or isolated area with only the harsh elements, wild animals, and a serial killer for company. Films like Rust Creek, P2, Unhinged, and The Hitcher offer similar premises. Despite this, I enjoyed Alone and think it’s one of the stronger entries in the genre.

Alone opens with a widow named Jessica, played by Jules Willcox (Dreamkatcher, Servant) as she begins a road trip through Oregon to cope with the recent suicide of her husband. The long hours on the road are interrupted by phone calls from her mother, with whom Jessica does not wish to communicate, and increasingly alarming encounters with a strange man who seems fixated upon Jessica.

The man tries to overtake her on the road and nearly causes her to crash her car, but the nightmare doesn’t end there. Jessica sees him everywhere she goes, and his increasingly erratic behavior and her mounting paranoia contribute to an overall feeling of dread. It’s only a matter of time before the man makes his move, and when he does, it leaves Jessica trapped in an isolated cabin with a stranger intent on ending her life.

The film quickly morphs into a cat-and-mouse game as Jessica makes a daring escape from the cabin and begins her perilous trek through the wilderness, battling cold and rain in a desperate attempt for freedom. At one point she encounters a good samaritan, but the creepy man chasing her convinces the samaritan that Jessica is hysterical. At every point in her escape, Jessica is forced to re-evaluate her plans, but she’s determined to survive and she makes several smart choices along the way that had me cheering for her.

Alone – Courtesy Magnet Releasing /

Jules Willcox shines in the lead role of Jessica, with so much of the story and action hinging on her performance. Willcox proves she is more than up for the task and brings a quiet vulnerability and inner strength to Jessica that makes her worth rooting for. Marc Menchaca (Ozark, No One Gets Out Alive) is effectively creepy as the film’s villain, simply called Man.

This is where Alone shines. It is smart and straightforward. The film doesn’t waste time on the needless backstory for the villain; he’s a creep who has gotten away with murder before and this has gone to his head. He believes he is above everyone and entitled to whatever he wants, at whatever cost. To bad for him when he vastly underestimates Jessica.

Alone is a thrilling film that builds on its suspense but remains rooted in realism. I don’t care that I’ve seen this premise many times before. Alone is a worthy survival horror story and one I think makes for a perfect, atmospheric Halloween binge session.

What is your favorite wilderness survival horror movie? Let us know in the comments.

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