This week on "Justin Hall At The Movies," I'll be reviewing "Alone" and "Infidel."
Alone works well as a suspense thriller that somewhat subverts the structure of these kinds of movies, but it retreats to formula during the climax instead of maintaining its momentum.
Jules Willcox stars as Jessica Swanson, a woman from Portland, Oregon who packs up and leaves in order to escape the fact that she's been recently widowed.
On the journey, she encounters a vehicle ahead of her that refuses to let her pass and by not doing so, she nearly has a head-on collision with a truck.
Later that night, Jessica meets up with the driver who is only known in the credits as Man (Mark Menchaca), who wears glasses and thin hair. He sort of bears a resemblance to Kevin Bacon only with the aforementioned features.
Man tries to apologize to Jessica and she accepts, but later on Man asks for help as his vehicle needs work and she refuses because she becomes paranoid. She's right.
Man then kidnaps her and takes her hostage to his remote cabin in the wilderness and she tries to escape and actually succeeds.
While still in the woods, Jessica comes up on a hunter named Robert (Anthony Heald) who tries to help her.
At this point, the rest of the movie woild require me to go into spoiler territory, so I'll stop there.
Alone is a thriller that makes sensational work of its atmosphere in the woods by presenting Jessica with obstacles that we're not sure how she'll survive, but she displays a surprising amount of resourcefulness and that may or may come into play.
As for its plot, at the beginning, I kept waiting for Russell Crowe's character in Unhinged to turn and see if he and Man would join up in their pursuits of terroizing unsuspecting victims.
The sound design and lack of music is also effective as the sound is heightened in order to substitute for a conventional score. It's creepy and unsettling and does make for a convincing alternative.
Just like the title suggests, I was alone when I went to see it and I was the only one in the theater which might make for an effective experience.
Alone does work as long as you can forgive the shortcomings of its conclusion.
(Rated R for violent content and language.)
Infidel is an ideological thriller that wastes its time by being plodding, lackadaisical, and way too talky.
It stars Jim Caviezel as Doug Rawlins, an American journalist and devout Christian who journeys to Iran in order to have peace talks between Christianity and Islam. After his comments regarding his faith are televised, he's kidnapped by a regime that wants him to take back what he said and also confess that his visit was the result of spy activity and be put on trial.
Claudia Karvan costars as his wife who makes a desperate attempt to get the US government involved, but they refuse and she's forced to fly to Iran to save him herself.
Rawlins is tortured and interrogated by the regime and if you play connect the dots, it kind of makes parallels to another faith-based movie Caviezel did.
Caviezel brings a lot of commitment and earnestness to his role, but he's surrounded by a script that's by-the-numbers and predictable that by the end, we don't care how it ends because we more or less have an idea already.
The movie tries to make a case of ideological conflict between the Middle East and Western Civilization, but it falls into a repetitive cycle of endless dialogue and cliches that would've played out well on either CNN or Fox News or both.
Plus, on a filmmaking level, it's somewhat competently made, but overall, this is something that would work better on Netflix or some other streaming format.
As I've previously mentioned, Caviezel gets tortured quite a bit in this movie, but the one feels the real punishment is whoever sits in the audience.
(Rated R for violence and language.)