Alone With Her


Alone With Her Review

The voyeurism of the film camera has been a handy device in queasy-stomach thrillers from Peeping Tom to Halloween, bringing the audience into the position of the attacker as he steadily advanced on a victim (female and nubile, of course) and practically making them a part of the assault that followed. While some directors (like Powell in Peeping Tom) may have used this device as a Hitchcockian method of indicting the viewers for their sweaty-palmed need to watch, in the hands of John Carpenter and his followers it was something much more basic: the vicarious thrill. It's the resolute abandonment of any such thrill-seeking that makes Eric Nicholas' indie stalker experiment Alone with Her so brave. This is the rare film of its kind that dares to not give the pervs in the audience what they really want: a helpless, dehumanized female victim offered up for the slaughter.

This is doubly impressive, given how stacked the deck is against the woman being stalked in Alone with Her, as Nicholas has constructed his film so that every single shot is from the lens of a camera either carried or worn by the stalker, or planted in the woman's apartment. Amy (Ana Claudia Talancón) is never seen from anybody's perspective but that of Doug (Colin Hanks), who first spots her in a park while he's out gathering footage of women. Once his lens locks onto her, it never leaves, circling in closer and closer. It isn't long before Doug has broken into Amy's apartment and hidden small cameras everywhere, all of them feeding continuously back to his computer. And so we watch as he creeps incrementally into her life, striking up a conversation at the coffee shop she frequents about a film he just saw (knowing that she had just rented it the night before). To Amy's eye, Doug's just a harmlessly cute and geeky guy who she happens to have surprisingly a lot in common with, and Nicholas builds the story so painstakingly that there are times when the audience is almost able to believe the same.

The viewer knows that as quiet as the film is for much of its early running time, this is all going somewhere bad. The stalker persona has been so thoroughly pored over in the tabloid and TV crime drama genres that the stage is set: Doug will form an intense, mostly imaginary, bond with Amy, she will disappoint him at some point, he will extract revenge. Given that, Nicholas is able to build a surprising amount of drama into his narrative, mostly due to a rather rigorously naturalistic approach to a sensationalistic story. He casts a Latina as the victim instead of the expected blonde, makes the stalker neither supernaturally brilliant nor a loathsome freak any sensible woman would recoil from. With maybe one exception -- the best friend who tries to warn Amy -- there are almost no stalker film tropes here to ensure success. Talancón and Hanks play their parts in an exceptionally low and realistic key, adding to the overall uncomfortable air of watching a depraved home movie.

Somehow, for all the voyeurism on display here, Nicholas never victimizes or exploits Amy, a feat almost unique given the kind of film this is. She never comes off as anything less than a normal young woman undeserving of any kind of punishment. If Nicholas can be accused of anything it's of catering to the paranoia of our age, telling us that in fact, yes, that guy in the café was being just a bit too nice. Watch out for him.

Night vision goggles on!

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Friday 4th July 2008

Box Office Worldwide: $10 thousand

Budget: $1000 thousand

Distributed by: IFC First Take

Production compaines: Pin Hole Productions LLC, The Weinstein Company

Reviews 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Eric Nicholas

Starring: as Doug, as Amy (as Ana Claudia Talancon), as Jen, Jonathon Trent as Matt (as Jonathan Trent), Alex Boling as Barrista, Tony Armatrading as Cop (as Anthony Armatrading)