Review: ‘Alone’ plays on inherent fears.

Jules Willcox (Netflix’s Bloodline) stars in ALONE as Jessica, a grief-stricken widow who flees the city in an attempt to cope with the loss of her husband.  When Jessica is kidnapped by a mysterious man and locked in a cabin in the Pacific Northwest, she escapes into the wilderness and is pursued by her captor. The key cast includes Marc Menchaca (Ozark, The Outsider) and Anthony Heald (The Silence Of The Lambs).

In college, I used to drive 8 hrs, regularly, in my car to visit a boyfriend. I was alone. I drove straight through pausing only briefly if I saw families at a busy rest stop. But, I was alone.  John Hyam’s new film is everything I was afraid of happening to me on those long rides.  ALONE is a bonafide nightmare. The genius of this script is its simplicity. The relatively mundane encounters build in the most honest and horrifying way. Jessica does everything right. But, once a serial killer has you in his sites, there is no escape, or so you might think. The pacing is absolutely perfect. The sound editing highlights the isolation that is evident in the natural setting. The soundtrack beating it all into you. All combined you feel like you’re in Jessica’s shoes. ALONE is a stripped-down genre winner.

Jules Willcox is a powerhouse as Jessica. Her vulnerability is so relatable making it easy to root for her survival. This is a power dynamic that shouldn’t exist but women, in particular, are used to dealing with it constantly. With an evergrowing population of “incel’ culture, walking with your keys between your fingers, pretending to be on the phone, parking under a streetlight, are all small steps we take to protect ourselves. Women are often deemed too emotional until we are tested by the unimaginable. ALONE exploits all that ingrained fear and mixes it with grief. Willcox nails this role from every angle. Marc Menchaca does a brilliant job with physicality. He comes off as visually harmless but he is downright scary. Perfectly balancing emotional manipulation with the brute strength of a psychopath, you’ll believe he’s done this before.

This film put me in such an agitated state, I had fingernail marks in my palms. My heart was pounding and I would forget to breathe. The final scene is phenomenally satisfying for innumerable reasons. The final shot is stunning. ALONE is a visceral watch. It is the only accurate way to describe this chilling film.

Magnet Releasing will release ALONE in theaters and on-demand September 18th, 2020.

Directed by John Hyams

Written by Mattias Olsson

Starring Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, and Anthony Heald

Review: ‘You Don’t Nomi’ documentary takes a good, hard look at the phenomenon that is Showgirls.

Paul Verhoeven‘s Showgirls (1995) was met by critics and audiences with near universal derision. You Don’t Nomi traces the film’s redemptive journey from notorious flop to cult classic, and maybe even masterpiece.

Peaches Christ plays Cristal Connors in the stage production of “Showgirls! The Musical!” as featured in the documentary YOU DON’T NOMI, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

Paul Verhoeven directed RoboCop, Total Recall, and Basic Instinct, three incredibly influential films of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Then he directed Showgirls. Oftentimes known as the rise and fall of Elizabeth Berkley‘s career, it is a film that gets s visceral reaction no matter what. You Don’t Nomi is a documentary about the ins and outs of the film’s effect on critics and audiences alike.

The film is edited to show his other films “reacting” to whatever scene we’re discussing. Which eventually becomes massively cathartic in juxtaposing sexual violence in Verhoeven’s films. Author Adam Nayman uses his book’s structure; Piece of Shit, Masterpiece, and Masterpiece of Shit. You can see how many of his films are wrapped into Showgirls. There is fascinating filmmaking happening once it’s broken down for you. You also meet April Kidwell, the star of I, Nomi, the Off-Broadway tribute to Showgirls. She discusses her parallel past and how performing a musical comedy based on the film has been her therapeutic outlet. Peaches Christ uses drag to, in a sense, improv shadow cast the film for sold-out crowds. The audience still loves this movie, no matter where that love comes from is a total phenomenon.

Audience at Showgirls at Midnight Mass in San Francisco in the documentary YOU DON’T NOMI, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

The opposing opinions all make weird sense. I walked away feeling like I had just had a cinematic lobotomy. I still don’t know how I feel about Showgirls, but I know I want to gather friends and colleagues when this pandemic is all over and watch the hell out of it again. Same thing with this doc. You Don’t Nomi is brilliant in all the ways it challenges viewers and fellow critics to rethink Showgirls so many years later. It may just upend your brain, too.

YOU DON’T NOMI On Demand and Digital June 9, 2020