Any stalker film where a dog appears is a sign that you’ll be uncomfortable with yourself for watching it. “Alone with Her” has a dog and a rampant sense of dread, the kind you don’t recover from for at least a few days. I’m on the first day.
Despite the presence of Colin Hanks, who has grown more into his father’s profile since “Orange County,” the real stars are the cameras that writer/director Eric Nicholas and DP Nathan Wilson have employed to simulate how technology today has become a new ally for stalkers, especially those into voyeurism. Hanks comes into the picture 28 minutes in and then sporadically until he really needs to, as a stalker does, encroaching more and more on the life of Amy (Ana Claudia Talancon), an artist who doesn’t suspect anything at first at the coffee shop where she meets Doug (Hanks), when he professes to having the same interests in movies and music as he does.
But why her, above all the women he films through the camera in his backpack? Simple. At a park with her dog Rocky, where he watches her, she looks over at a couple making out and sadness comes over her, and we learn later that she’s at the tail end of getting over a breakup. Perfect chance for Doug to make his move. And many other moves as well, as he stealthily breaks into her apartment to install a camera in her clock radio, cameras in the bathroom (one strategically planted in front of her shower), and cameras where her TV is. And he watches, all the time it would seem, meeting her after he’s found out more information about her and using it to surprise and manipulate her, of course without her knowing it.
If Hanks has learned some methods of acting from his father, then he has learned very well. Amy also has a potential new beau in Matt (Jonathon Trent) whom she invites over a couple of times and in seeing this on one of the many monitors he has, he violently shoves nearby items off his desk. We already know something’s wrong by what he’s doing, but it’s then that there’s even more to worry about, even more to be shaken by. And it spirals into even more darkness from there, even though it’s dark enough just by watching him talk with Amy, smooth speaker that he is.
“Alone with Her” burrows into you, picking at every moral you have, pinching, prodding. We wonder why Doug can’t ask Amy out since she’s right there in front of her. But in each minute that’s seen through the cameras he has installed and the camera he has on him, he gets more of a thrill from stalking than courting. And he’s not above controlling her through other means whenever she unknowingly displeases him.
Nicholas should no doubt be grateful that he thought of this enough to actually make it, as “Alone with Her” is the only film where this will work, to get this close to a stalker’s intentions. This is a truly disturbing work that makes the mind race with worry, and the heart pump with fear, though thankfully not in a way that tests a viewer’s unease every minute. Gradually. Ever so gradually.