Alone With Her

Alone With Her


Reviewed by: Richard Mellor

What is it with geeks these days? Once upon a happy time they were content: starting up big companies called Microsoft and eventually, eventually losing their virginity in American Pie and the like. But nowadays four-eyes are much more troublesome: taking down French banks and world economies; bringing John McClane out of retirement; and, as in Eric Nicholas's disturbing drama, recording copious hours of footage of unsuspecting pretty girls. Okay geeks, we get it - you want respect too! Now put down that textbook...

As well as this geek chic, Alone With Her deals with a very modern social pariah – the curent hard-on for surveillance and cameras. With cultural voices like Banksy railing against the UK's propensity for CCTV, and Big Brother seemingly translating voyeurism into viewing figures, observation has never been more newsworthy. But its an increasingly scary and prevalent subject, as evidenced by this chillingly sincere drama.

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Nicholas’ film offers a window into the world of Doug (Colin Hanks), a middle-partinged, small-mouthed and ill-dressed LA nobody who spends his days illicitly taping sunbathing or short-skirted babes from inelegant angles. One day in the local park, he zooms in on Amy (Ana Claudia Talancon), a pretty Latina, and is instantly smitten. Resisting the traditional flowers and chocolate, doting Doug instead follows Amy home, breaks in and hooks up hidden cameras everywhere from boudoir to bedroom.

It ought to be pointed out that our anti-hero has scarcely graced the screen. For reasons of authenticity, Alone With Her is entirely filmed with surveillance-style gadgetry, the majority of which is owned by Doug as the premier pervert in town. We’re invited to share his frustrations as Amy wanders out of focus, and empathise with his excitement as she showers or masturbates. It’s an offer most viewers will easily decline.

Thus far content to record his love object in her pants, dangerous Doug soon cooks up unsavoury aspirations of getting into them. Plotting from an ill-lit chamber (no more the van-across-the-street detective favourite), he engineers a series of not-so ‘chance’ meetings, playing the role of implausibly nice guy between spy sessions. No matter that Amy doesn’t fancy him: soon Doug is helping sell her artwork and fixing a cut foot, in between angrily sabotaging other romantic avenues and poisoning the dog.

Its chief protagonist now less pathetic Big Bother than Really Unhinged Maniac, Alone With Her becomes vastly uncomfortable to watch. Doug’s portly paws seem ever more unlikely to abandon his obsession, and each encounter with Amy is creepier and crawlier than the last. As the inevitably despicable conclusion looms large, we are forced to see everything from Doug’s unreasonable perspective, unable to forewarn Amy of the terrible threat she is increasingly under.

Talancon is brilliant in a role which demands total obliviousness, both of cameras and of her stalker’s inappropriate methods. She is clearly a genuinely good person; it’s that quality as much as any other which seems to goad Doug on to nastier, galling deeds. The villain himself makes only cameo appearances on his own reality TV show, mostly preferring to watch wheezily from the shadows as the night vision clicks on. Hanks ensures he’s suitably sinister.

Nicholas’s film is decidedly unpleasant, and its ending is eagerly anticipated for the last terrifying hour. The finale is faintly predictable, but Alone With Her still merits congratulation for its brave, innovative style and unflinching seizure of a most relevant modern issue. Ultimately, Amy seems as much a victim of society’s happiness to provide Doug with his digital aids as of her own beauty and misplaced kindness. Worse still, she seems powerless to prevent her degrading plight.

Reviewed on: 05 Jun 2008
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An LA nobody moves from voyeurism to stalking.
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Director: Eric Nicholas

Writer: Eric Nicholas

Starring: Ana Claudia Talancon, Colin Hanks, Jordana Spiro, Jonathon Trent, Alex Boling, Tony Armatrading, Nicole Lawson, Morgan Star, Lauri Christi, Mel Gorham, Ashley McCarthy

Year: 2006

Runtime: 78 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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