Alone with Her evokes an unsettling atmosphere surrounding a situation more realistic than anything a Friday the 13th sequel could ever dream of offering. Jason can slay as many campers as he wants, and Michael can slice up babysitters till his heart's content. But these cinematic slashmeisters can't hold a candle to the inherent creepiness of reality's own psychos.
Employing a visual style reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project with updated technology, Alone with Her is told through the many camera lenses of a lonely soul named Doug (Colin Hanks). Too deathly afraid and shy too approach members of the opposite sex, Doug opts to use hidden cameras to tape women without their knowledge. During one such outing, his eye falls upon Amy (Ana Claudia Talancon), a beautiful young woman with a certain sadness about her.
His twisted mind sensing a kindred spirit, Doug devotes all of his stalking time to Amy, eventually going so far as to install tiny spy cameras throughout her home to keep a constant watch. As Doug's obsession grows, he slowly introduces himself to the unsuspecting Amy, the poor girl unaware that this nerdy nice guy she may be slowly falling for is slyly pushing her right into his privacy-invading hands.
Alone with Her emerges as a wholly chilling experience, due in great part to its near-perfect sense of progression. Writer/director Eric Nicholas knows precisely how to draw the audience in and how to tweak the mounting intensity to keep viewers absorbed. Many horror movies tend to go for broke right off the bat, spending the rest of the running time trying to top itself, but Alone with Her takes a more delicate and diabolical approach. It's short, patient, and simple -- and all the more effective for it. As frightening and disturbing as the story's events can become, Nicholas grounds things in reality and maintains a voyeuristic atmosphere that's realistic to the point of being uncomfortable -- just the mood he wants us in. He keeps the viewer extremely close to the characters, but when one takes a step back and looks at the story, it's clear he's created exactly the right frame of mind.
Nicholas also brings a strange but scary perspective to the table; viewers still get to know Amy and grow to sympathize with her, but it's entirely through the eyes of her own stalker. Painting on an extra coat of creepiness makes the audience even more uneasy.
Of course, Alone with Her wouldn't be this successful without its fantastic co-stars. Hanks (Orange County) performs one heck of a tightrope walk, perfectly playing up Doug's predatory side while bringing out his more pathetic, misguided nature at the same time. Talancon (previously seen in Fast Food Nation and The Crime of Padre Amaro) proves to be more than your basic slasher movie's Final Girl. She's an already damaged woman who buys into the "nice guy" image Doug is shilling out to her. These two actors are more than up to the task of providing fleshed-out characters worth investing time on.
My major complaint involves the film's climax. It peters out rather fast and sort of predictably. It's a puzzlingly flat end to a picture which -- up to that point -- boasts an intense, well-paced build-up. Still, this shouldn't discourage you from renting Alone with Her, a smart little thriller that's very good at hitting almost too close to home.
MY RATING: *** 1/2 (out of ****)
(Released by IFC; not rated by MPAA.)