Director – Johnny Martin, Screenplay – Matt Naylor, Producers – Rabid Aridi, Anne Jordan & Johnny Martin, Photography – Martim Vian, Music – Frederik Wiedmann, Visual Effects – MODEfx (Supervisors – Travis Berry & J.D. McKee), Special Effects Supervisor – Josh Hakian, Makeup Effects – Sota F/X (Makeup Design – Roy Knyrim), Production Design – Eric Weiler. Production Company – Lionsgate/Grindstone Entertainment Group/HIG Productions.
Tyler Posey (Aidan), Summer Spiro (Eva), Donald Sutherland (Edward), Robert Ri’chard (Brandon)
Aidan is in his apartment as a zombie outbreak occurs outside and rapidly overruns the city. He is forced to stay trapped inside his apartment with the refrigerator barricaded against the door to prevent the zombies in the building’s hallway from getting in. As the days drag on, his supplies dwindle and Aidan’s sanity frays. He records a series of vlogs to document his state of mind. Just as he is about to end it all and hang himself, Aidan discovers a girl Eva in the apartment opposite. The two strike up a conversation between the two buildings and set out to aid the other.
I sat down to watch Alone mistakenly thinking I was watching the John Hyams thriller Alone (2020) that came out around the same time as this only to discover I was watching a completely different film. Both Alone’s were released in September of 2020, no doubt causing a great deal of confusion to people. To add to the confusion, 2020 also saw a third film with the same name with James Cullen Bressick’s Alone (2020), which has a very similar plot to the Hyams film.
It was also not long into Alone when I began to think “I’ve seen this before” and realised that the plot was awfully similar to one I had previously seen, the South Korean #Alive (2020), which was released four months earlier in the same year. That was a modest film about a guy stranded in his apartment during the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse and his friendship with the girl similarly trapped in the apartment on the other side of the street. #Alive was charming and appealing in its building of the friendship between the two.
Looking at the credits for Alone, I see both it and #Alive are both written by Matt Naylor. I am not quite sure what the process is that it allows a script to have two different versions made near-simultaneously in two different countries. Certainly, the practice of conducting English-language remakes of foreign films has been widespread but usually involves Hollywood producers buying up the rights to a prior established hit. It used to be back at the dawn of the sound era that a script would be filmed simultaneously in different languages because nobody had yet figured out dubbing or subtitling. There is also the practice of Bollywood uncreditedly ripping off Hollywood films but I have never heard before of a modern film having two different versions made in two different countries at the same time.
Having watched both versions of the film now, I have to say I far prefer #Alive to Alone. Alone seems to miss all of the things that made #Alive work. There is no charm to the scenes of Tyler Posey connecting with the girl next door. All we get is him holding up pre-written signs in a scene that you feel should have been cute but just seems contrived. Also the two buildings seems to be little more than twenty feet apart rather than the width of a regular street it was in the Korean version – there seems to be zero reason why he just can’t shout across to her and be heard. The whole point of the Korean film was the cuteness of the relationship we watched develop across the distance with the two unable to connect verbally. Not to mention that this is a film where the girl remains almost entirely blank and we get no sense of her as a character let alone of the development of the relationship between the two.
Alone follows the same basic plot as #Alive, although many of the minor details are changed. For example, the scene where the guy tries to commit suicide was far more cute in the Korean version where what saves him is the laser pointer coming in through the window from her side rather than here where he sees the girl through his window just before the rope snaps. Also the scene where the zombie climbs up to get into her apartment is far less effective here – there is not the tension of the guy trying to come to her aid as she lies unconscious, rather all we get here is a fast-moving zombie scaling the sides of the wall and jumping between balconies – here all that Tyler Posey does to stop it is throw a plastic bottle at it in contrast to the Korean version where he flies a drone at it. The one thing this version does do better is the scenes with the survivor in the other apartment, something that was underdeveloped in the Korean version, whereas this has the benefit of Donald Sutherland giving a characteristically fine performance in the part.
The other thing that killed the film for relatability issues is Tyler Posey, previously known as the lead in tv’s Teen Wolf (2011-7).When we see him, Posey is like some Hollywood vision of what a cool guy should be – he is heavily tattooed, wakes up next to a smoking hot girl who looks like she should be a fashion model, lives in an apartment that most people in a metropolitan area would need a six figure salary to maintain, has walls decorated with neon artwork and casual items in his apartment like a surfboard and band equipment. (It is never said what he actually does for an income). For him, existing on starvation rations for 40 days amounts to no more than mussing up his hair and growing a beard as he handsomely anguishes into his vlog channel and smashes a mirror to denote frustration.
Director Johnny Martin had previously made the serial killer thriller Hangman (2017) and the horror film Delirium (2018).