"I am a ninja."
Though the world, consumed with zombies for the better part of the last decade, knows pretty much everything of the genre, Johnny Martin's Alone tackles the post-apocalyptic experience from a different perspective: isolation.
Tyler Posey stars as Aidan, a lonely surfer who awakens to find that the world has turned into a chaotic mess as most of humanity has transformed into blood-hungry zombies. Confined to his apartment, he must ration food and water, unsure of when he will be able to leave, and even less so that another uninfected human exists on the other side of the door.
The film begins on day forty-two, as a heavily bearded Aidan steps onto a chair, preparing to end his internal suffering. Before we can fully grasp the situation, we venture back to the start of the outbreak. The approach allows us to see the initial events through Aidan's eyes as he is unexpectedly cut off from humanity, forced to adapt with no end in sight.
The situation, to a minor degree, is painfully familiar.
Aidan quickly begins to adjust to his new surroundings, watching the news as he works tirelessly to contact his family. We never fully understand the strong connection he has to them, a disappointment for those who question his lack of friends or acquaintances in his building.
During these moments, Alone excels, utilizing Posey's talents and the mental battle that anyone would face going weeks without human contact. Quickly paced and never dull, Martin keeps events fresh as Aidan begins a video blog. Likely meant to provide an excuse for some dialogue, the blog moments capture a sense of authenticity, one that allows us to connect to our lead protagonist. We can then understand his hardships and frustration better as he works to survive a situation for which he is not prepared.
The Screamers, as they are called, run impatiently in the hallway, seeking a live body for feasting. They occasionally make their way into the apartment, sending chills down your spine as you question Aidan's ability to defend himself. But on that fateful day, as he stands atop the chair, he catches sight of something new - a woman, casually closing her curtains across the alley.
Through a series of charming exchanges and one daring delivery, we discover her name is Eva (Summer Spiro), and she too is alone. Their conversations, rarely audible, add a sense of heart to the story as we begin to see Aidan's personality shine through. After weeks of no human contact, their connection plays out like a high school romance, without the sex and Snapchat filter.
Aside from the characters, Alone does well to create a tone that is mentally demanding. Though we hear and occasionally see the threat, they are rarely the primary focus. The stretches of vulnerability are, admittedly, unrealistic; however, it brings me back to the primary point: Alone is more about surviving yourself than your environment.
The film reaches its apex during a haunting convention between Aidan and Donald Sutherland's Edward. The dialogue is consistently off as you anticipate the worst, never fully knowing where the scene is taking you. Granted, that is the point. However, it, in a weird sense, feels like an entirely different movie as we begin to realize that during any global pandemic, the threat continually changes, weaving in and out of focus as numerous elements share the spotlight, any one of which could be your demise.
Stylistically raw and particular, Alone marks a success for the heavily overplayed apocalyptic sub-genre. It doesn't attempt to revamp the wheel and provides us a different approach to an all too familiar problem. It will be hard to deny that the film isn't a vanity project for Posey, but the man rises to the occasion, creating a character that we hope survives and gets the girl in the end.
*This film is currently available via On-Demand and Digital platforms.