Sunday, January 21, 2007

Alone With Her

Sometimes the setting in which you watch a movie makes all the difference in its effectiveness. For example, I vividly recall watching Witchboard as a teen alone in my house at night, and it was terrifying. When I watched it again recently, I found myself laughing more than being scared and marvelling at how I could have been scared by a Tawny Kitaen film.

So last night, I watched a screener of Alone With Her at home alone with my dog. The movie concerns a girl who lives alone with her dog who is stalked by a surveillance expert. Understandably, my setting contributed to my being utterly creeped-out.

But I think this film will work no matter where it's watched. It really takes the killer's POV to the extreme, and director Eric Nicholas devises creative expressions for the subjective camera. The film is a very 21st century update on the first film to ever horrify us by letting us see through the killer's eyes - Peeping Tom.

Colin Hanks plays Doug, a shy loner and surveillance geek. Doug randomly picks a victim, Amy (Ana Claudia Talancon), when he spots her alone in a park with her dog, crying quietly as she watches a couple making out. He immediately begins to follow her and seizes an opportunity to break into her apartment, where he plants spy cams in every room including the bathroom. Our view of the action as it unfolds comes only through these cameras. We learn about Amy's life in all its intimate details - her masturbation technique, her confessions to her best friend, her loneliness. There are many nifty shots, including the POV from a camera Doug hides in a gym bag when he follows Amy, complete with a zippered border on the shots. Doug gradually gets to know Amy, by pretending to have common interests, conveniently showing up at the coffeehouse she frequents, and helping her when she's in trouble. A friendship develops which fills us with more anxiety, as Amy grows to trust him and lets him into her apartment and into her life.

It would have been nice to learn more about the killer, but the film's faithfulness to its storytelling doesn't allow for that. It's also a little unclear why he fixates on Amy. She's cute but doesn't seem particularly interesting as a character. Hanks does a good job walking the line between nice guy/creep, but Talancon doesn't do much to elevate her character beyond a horror movie damsel in distress. So, while the film doesn't really break new ground in terms of its narrative, it's definitely good for some creepy thrills, especially if you're a girl with a dog watching it in the house alone at night.

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