Telluride Horror Show : Here Alone
by Jon Rutledge
People often forget that the draw of a zombie movie is not the zombies. Although they can be fun, what really draws fans to this genre is the human story. Some have said that zombies are an analogy for our own mortality. I agree, and that’s why a movie that is focused on a person’s survival in this horrific setting is so engaging.
Here Alone is gripping because we feel for the character. This was one of my favourites from the Telluride Horror Show. Ann (Lucy Walters) is alone in the woods. We see her making her way alone. She hunts and scavenges for food. She is living in the middle of nowhere. In flashback, we see her husband, Jason (Shane West) and her infant daughter and herself are leaving their home trying to get to safety, because of some event that completely decimates society. Knowing that is where she starts, we watch the story as the flashbacks catch us up to what is happening in real time.
Ann runs into two survivors, Olivia (Gina Piersanti) and her stepfather Chris (Adam David). Chris is injured and Ann lets them stay with her for the night. This is where the heart of the film unfolds. Ann, Chris and Olivia now have to build a relationship. This is the magic of this film. The zombies are only a side note and, at best, set dressing to the true horrifying aspect of building trust with people who can be just as dangerous as the monsters in the dark. Working together is key to survival in an apocalyptical environment. So the relationship between these three is very important - it’s this dynamic that gets Ann away from just existing in the woods to really attempt to live again. She realises that she needs to move. Because of Chris and Olivia’s interaction, Ann has the motivation she needs to continue.
This film is masterfully shot and performed. Lucy Walters is completely in control of this role and shows strength and fragility. She grows from somewhat subservient housewife to hardened survivor. She is like all of our favourite characters from The Walking Dead all rolled into one. She is an outstanding performer. This film is a slower pace than some of the other horror films I have seen, but well worth the journey. The director (Rod Blackhurst) brings the writer’s (David Ebeltoft) work to stunning life.
This needs to be on your watchlist - keep an eye out for it. Not only is it a favourite of mine from the festival, but it’s made my list of favourite zombie films. The filmmakers show a great understanding of how the horror genre can really show us our humanity. It has been a week and this movie still hangs in my mind. I love the way this movie takes you through almost every emotion in the human condition. Even after seeing it, I wanted to pop back in line and watch it again on the next screening. If I wasn’t at the festival in an official capacity I would have gone back for a second helping.