Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Alone With Her (2007)

"1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetimes."

"1.4 million people are stalked every year in the United States."

"76% of women killed by their intimate partners were stalked before they were killed."

These are just a few of the distasteful facts about stalkers that are revealed at the beginning of Alone With Her. As a woman, the dangers of "peeping toms" and stalkers have always been prevalent, but technology today is making it easier than ever for anyone to purchase cheap and tiny video cameras that can be hidden in alarm clocks, cell phones, pens, plants, teddy bears, eyeglasses, hats and clothing.

Doug (Colin Hanks) enjoys bumming around town, hidden camera shoved into a bag, and video taping women without their knowledge. He loves taping scantily-clad sunbathers at the beach, up girls’ skirts and down their tops at the store and the occasional pretty dog-walker at the park. It’s at the park that he first sees Amy (Ana Claudia Talancon) and is attracted to her vulnerability after she gets teary-eyed when watching a touchy-feely couple. Doug feels some kind of twisted connection to her, so he follows her home and bugs her house with tiny cameras – in the bathroom, in the bedroom, on the patio and in the living room. He watches her day and night, learning all her secrets, all her likes and dislikes and her schedule until he deems himself ready enough to meet her face-to-face in a “chance” encounter. The nebbish Doug manipulates Amy and uses his knowledge of her to infiltrate her life. After they become acquaintances at the coffee shop Amy frequents, Doug puts himself in a position to continually come to Amy's rescue. A budding artist, Doug designs her a site where she can feature her paintings and also gets her a gallery showing, where she sells her first pieces of art. Yet, when a new man comes into Amy's life or a concerned friend gets the heebie jeebies from him, he makes sure to clear the pathway so nothing and no one will interrupt his pursuit of her. He even goes so far as to get Amy fired, poison her, make her violently ill and give her a severe allergic reaction with a substance he puts on her sheets. How far is Doug willing to go to fulfill his obsession?

Alone With Her is an intelligent, socially aware film that scared me enough to lock all the doors, close all the blinds and peer suspiciously at my alarm clock as the end credits rolled. There's no doubt that after viewing this film you too will have these severe, paranoid reactions!

The entire film is viewed through Doug's network of hidden cameras. We watch along with Doug as Amy takes a shower, does her makeup, talks on the phone with her mom, speculates with her friend, plays with her dog or plays with herself. Even when Doug encounters her in real life he is wired to tape her every move. Writer/director Eric Nicholas and cinematographer Nathan Wilson wisely chose to give the film an all-too-real and immediate feel as they present the story through the hidden cameras. The result is an unsettling and even dirty feeling that settles over the viewer (and voyeur). I can tell you that after watching this film I felt like I needed a shower! The hidden cameras are invasive and the random static that pops up occasionally never lets us forget that we are trespassing into someone's private life. In fact, this invasion of privacy makes you yourself feel vulnerable and exposed, which gives you all the more reason to sympathize with Amy.

The performances in the film, by both Colin Hanks and Ana Claudia Talancon, are remarkable. Colin Hanks plays against his typical "aw shucks" character as the detached voyeur and obsessive stalker. Hanks as Doug, with his seemingly emotionless voice and twisted logic, is scarier than Michael, Freddy, Jason and Leatherface put together. He is real and he is out in the world, perhaps outside your window right now. Ana Claudia Talancon is vivacious, expressive and gorgeous as Amy. She comes across as natural and someone I would genuinely like to know in real life. This makes her situation all the more tragic and makes us really feel for her throughout the entire ordeal.

The script is never forced, but moves along at a slow yet natural pace. There is no gore, just a slowly building sense of dread as Doug moves in closer and closer to his prey. Let me tell you, though, the dread is almost palatable as the film nears its finale. By this point, I had grown so close to Amy's character that I wanted to reach through the screen and strangle the little twerp as he kept invading and messing with her life. When the film finally concludes with the inevitable, I felt sad, scared and disturbed.

Alone With Her hopes to bring to attention the voyeuristic society we live in. Reality shows rule the boob tube and we are told the government is always watching, so how soon before we start incorporating voyeurism into our own lives? Part cautionary tale, part wake-up call, Alone With Her succeeds in creating an unsettling, uncomfortable, and fear-soaked film with a message.

It comes highly recommended from yours truly.

Available from Amazon!

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