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I Am Alone Review

I Am Alone is a 2015 (Released 2017) horror film about an unknown virus that begins to spread infecting the local population almost instantly, but footage found by the CDC of one man’s survival may just help them find a cure.

Found footage films, for obvious technical and financial reasons, have flourished in the past decade, being easy to make and almost inherently fated for horror. Ghost stories and monsters in the dark have long been the staple, though occasionally filmmakers have explored other ways to be creative with Gopros and camera phones. Enter Robert A. Palmer‘s experimental Independent zombie film I Am Alone, a film that adopts many of the standards of the genre in order to create a nerve-wracking, nightmare that is as heartbreaking and terrifying as it is fresh and original.

Outdoor survivalist TV reality show host Jacob Fitts (Gareth David-Lloyd) is about to set out on a seven-day trek through the Rockies for his long-running show ‘I Am Alone.’ He’s seen off by his producer and cameraman Mason Riley (Gunner Wright) and Adam Levine (Rory Zacher), who head into town to film some B-roll and local interviews. What they get instead though is an outbreak of a strange virus that is turning victims into actual zombies. Levine is killed within minutes as Mason manages to escape, and attempts to get to the rendezvous point. Meanwhile, up in the foothills, Jacob is attacked and bitten, not aware of the pandemonium happening in civilization, believing his is an isolated incident with a madman. All alone, with his cameras rolling, he documents his desperate, slow, agonizing transformation.

The found footage narrative has never been all that compelling for me, the originators like The Blair Witch Project and later on Paranormal Activity creating a vacuum of sorts that has become flooded with ineffective knock-offs that do very little with the limitations the choice offers. Lately though, a few have shown promise, putting more emphasis on the characters than the gimmick, though barely any completely strip away our awareness of the camera, something that has always been a weakness in the storytelling as filmmakers must find ways to keep the actors plausibly in view. This is where I Am Alone digs in and accomplishes what is easily some of the best use of the filmmaking style yet, not only keeping the cameras integral but the story they tell a harrowing, tragic tale of loss.

That begins with David-Lloyd, whose emotional performance is the film’s greatest strength. From his robust on-camera host persona to his post-bitten disintegration, he is truly convincing and layers the trauma with a lot of humanity. To say more would spoil the experience, but suffice to say, it’s a quality bit of acting that elevates this zombie movie above the usual chase and chomp variety. Palmer, who shares screenplay credit with Michael A. Weiss, gives Jacob’s struggle plenty of momentum, intercutting it with a second subplot that takes place in an underground bunker, and the mix makes for a thoroughly engaging mystery laced with some pretty heavy tension. 

At this point in the zombie genre, there’s little room for innovation as filmmakers have pretty much wrung dry the potential for something new, and Palmer surely understands that, in fact, embracing the foundations of traditional zombie lore with great purpose. He’s not out to rewrite the zombies themselves, avoiding the contemporary trend of having them sprint about in frenzies, sticking more to the George Romero origins where they sluggishly ramble about chewing on corpses. There is no larger message and zero commentary on society, something that has already been done before, so instead, he decides to be organic and let what would be a terrifying incident play out as if in real time, and how that might affect a few people in its path. It’s jarringly effective and genuinely scary, and yet, when it’s over, it’s not the thrills and chills that stick with you, but rather the impact of one’s man’s fight to keep true.

I Am Alone Review

Movie description: I Am Alone is a 2015 (Released 2017) horror film about an unknown virus that begins to spread infecting the local population almost instantly, but footage found by the CDC of one man's survival may just help them find a cure.

Director(s): Robert A. Palmer

Actor(s): Gareth David-Lloyd, Gunner Wright, Katy Bodenhamer

Genre: Horror

  • Our Score
User Rating 4.67 (3 votes)
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