Friday, July 3, 2020

Alone Wolf Review: A Slow, Thoughtful Isolation Thriller

Release date: February 12, 2020 (Digital Release July 3, 2020)
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Cara Gee, Richard de Klerk, James Aaron Oliver 

Jonathan (de Klerk) has not left his house for two years.  Constantly worried about what is happening in the world outside, he has created a life where he can stay isolated in his home, only interacting with people over the video cameras he has installed.  It is a premise that is more relevant in our world today than it was when this film released, and one that might be all too familiar.  However, after witnessing a woman's boyfriend commit murder outside his home, Jonathan, is drawn out into the dangerous world to save her.

This movie has an interesting premise, with a man who has shut himself in being forced to interact with the world outside.  As mentioned, this might be something that viewers today can empathize more with than when this movie was written and first released.  Not a lot is explained about his predicament or what he does, but enough is there to let you get an idea of his backstory and current life.  This is helped by some really fantastic shot choice.  The movie doesn't have a huge budget or a ton of locations, but the camera work is fantastic to keep the story interesting.  The world that he has built in his house is interesting to see, but thankfully, he doesn't stay alone for the entire movie.  When Town Monroe (Gee) enters the picture, the movie gets a needed shot of personality.  As you would imagine with a movie about an individual, then two people, who are shut in, it is a slow film but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The film builds the world out very well, and highlights Jonathan's reluctance to leave his house.  And when Jonathan is forced to confront the outside world, he does so in a characteristically hesitant, shut-in way.  As is evident from this review, de Klerk does a great job as the shut in, building a convincing character and displaying a range of emotion.  Gee is also good as Monroe, and the two have a good rapport when they start to interact.  Since the movie is so focused on these two characters, this rapport is crucial to keep the story moving.

The story itself is interesting and I really liked the premise, however, I think Jonathan's character could have been built out a little more.  I felt like I didn't get enough backstory on him or the world.  And the pivotal moment--the murder that Jonathan witnesses--seems to happen too quickly and too randomly.  I understand that it was meant to be that way for the story, but it seems to come out of nowhere and his reaction also seems uncharacteristic.  I guess that was the whole idea, that this event started to change him, but to me the event itself didn't have enough gravity to move the plot along.  And Jonathan's changes also seem uncharacteristic to him.  I feel like, as I said before, we didn't get enough background into Jonathan for these changes to make sense.  However, these minor points aside, Alone Wolf is still an interesting, well-made, and thoughtful movie that might resonate with viewers given the current quarantine situation.

Alone Wolf is a slow burning character thriller, with an interesting premise (that might be all too familiar today), good rapport between its two leads, and wonderful camera work.

Rent it.
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