I Think We’re Alone Now (2018)
Written by Mike Makowsky
Directed by Reed Morano
When everyone died, Del was finally relieved. He no longer had to live his life as a recluse shuffling between his home and the public library where he worked. This town on the Hudson River was now his, and he spent his days scavenging one block after another, burying the dead and collecting supplies to live out the remainder of his life. Into this seeming apocalyptic tranquility burst Grace, a young woman brings noise and chaos into Del’s ordered existence. She claims to be the last of her family, wandering the highways and living without rules because there’s no one there to enforce them any longer. Tension builds and builds between these two as Del is unwilling to compromise his life and patterns for this interloper. However, Grace holds a very dark secret that will compel Del to face a crisis of conscience.
I Think We’re Alone Now (ITWAN) begins with great promise. We have a mystery laid out before us as well as a very human story about loneliness and connection. Del is a very relatable character for myself, a man who, when given a choice, prefers the solitude of a book than being in the middle of a sea of people. There is an innate human need for communion. Del is convinced he is happy, but the audience can immediately question the sustainability of his daily pattern in the long term. The mystery of Grace is a beautiful hook, and on reflection, I think to make her story a mundane one would have been the better choice. Instead, there is a third act twist that, while truly surprising, completely deflated any momentum the film had going for it.
ITWAN could have been a great film about how survivors of trauma cope in the aftermath. Del buries himself and does ritualistic things like collecting photographs and burying the dead. He didn’t know these people because he never permitted himself to but feels like he should be performing acts in their honor. Grace tries to intoxicate herself through substances and experiences, numbing the trauma incurred by watching her parents and sibling die. However, the script chooses to deliver the interactions of these characters in cliches. The plot begins to play out like a poorly written sitcom and feels predictable throughout the second act. A stray dog is discovered, and Grace asks if she can keep him. Del, the old curmudgeon, doesn’t like dogs. Of course, Del inevitably does something that loses the dog so that he and Grace’s conflict can bubble over. Didn’t I see this on an episode of Mr. Belevedere?
As rich with potential as this world is, the film never chooses to explore it in a way that feels satisfying. There’s little humor in this world; everything is weighed down with grim portent. The cinematography, much like the script, starts with the beautiful promise of images that will pull you in. The first act features a visually captivating sequence where awakened by loud noises and slowly walks to the floor to ceiling wall of windows, facing the Hudson, as fireworks explode in a whine and boom. It’s impossible not to have that nervous anticipation of what comes next and how Del’s world is about to be uprooted. However, then the problems as mentioned above arise, and we’re left with a movie that isn’t terrible but presents nothing compelling to make me recommend it.