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By Mark Bell | April 13, 2006

While many feature length films have difficulty sustaining suspense and mystery throughout their running time, a short seems like a perfect home for a claustrophobic, compact horror movie and it works perfectly in Alone.

Mandy Amano is the childish Ellen, a sorority sister who has ended up at the house alone with her thoughts while the other sisters are at a party. With her voiceover narrative, it’s obvious that when left alone she tends to let her imagination run away with her, so imagine her shock when she gets a stern knock at the door. Enter Detective Wiley (Guy Nardulli) who informs Ellen through a peephole that another girl from another sorority house has just been brutally murdered. The Detective would like to Ellen go to the police station, but even though she’s prone to freaking herself out, she manages to keep her wits about her and refuses his help even after he offers her his badge for identification. She tells him she’ll stay in for the night with all the doors and the windows locked.

Things return to semi-normal when she’s startled by a young boy watching her through the window. Taylor (Jerod Edington), a boyfriend to one of her sorority sisters has stopped by to make sure she’s OK. Being a bit more suave than Wiley, he manages to get invited inside with offers of protecting Ellen from any unseen forces.

What follows is a tense psycho-thriller where Ellen is as much of a threat to herself as the two men who may or may not be the killer. Prone to jumping the gun, Ellen can’t decide what’s going on until it’s too late.

A period piece that I’m guessing is early 60s, Alone captures the innocence and polite banter that we had become accustomed to pre-Kennedy’s assassination. Ellen is no stranger to saying words like “Gee” and “Heavens” and it’s that wholesomeness that makes Ellen’s situation that much more tense. She is in a world where she is unaware of the terrors that lay in the night, regardless of her off kilter view of the world. There is no clarity, no preparation, nothing for Ellen to rely on to understand her plight, yet she remains decent and trusting.

In a world of crippling self-awareness in filmmaking, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a film as straight-forward and as simple as Alone. Writer/director Kenny Selko simply boiled down the elements of a classy thriller and in the end brings home the bacon. Lusciously shot by Christopher Gosch, directed with finesse by Selko and well acted by all, Alone is a must for lovers of tight thrillers.

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