'I Am Alone': Film Review
Isn't reality TV made by zombies already?
The star of a wilderness-survival reality show comes face to face with the apocalypse in Robert Palmer's I Am Alone, which views a zombie outbreak through POV and surveillance-cam footage. A production so low-rent it has to shoot around the usual disembowelment action and enlist the townsfolk of its Montrose, Colo., setting as shambling post-mortem extras, the picture plays like a feature-length fan film; appropriately, its release strategy has it rolling out at genre-specific festivals. Alone has garnered some awards on this circuit, but it lacks the thrills or novelty required to punch through to more general-interest fests or commercial arenas.
Though the small cast boasts more experience than a production like this might hope for (especially star Gareth David-Lloyd, familiar to fans of the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood), Palmer's direction elicits uneven performances. Unfortunately, some of the clunkiest moments happen in its opening sequence. Here we meet TV producer Mason (Gunner Wright), whose popular series I Am Alone places survivalist Jacob (David-Lloyd) in various manly-man scenarios and watches as he endures nature's challenge.
Or not. As we learn from Dr. Marlow (Marshal Hilton), Jacob succumbed to zombie-itis out in the Colorado Rockies, the victim of monsters that had ravaged nearby towns while he was cut off from communications. But it took days, not minutes, for the virus to kill him — which is why Marlow has sequestered Mason in his underground laboratory to comb through Jacob's hours of self-shot footage, trying to explain how he fended off the infection so long. Why Mason is shackled to an interrogation table is left for viewers to explain; ditto for the Christmas lights and dot-matrix printer in this presumably high-tech facility.
The storytelling requires occasional cuts back to this present-tense framing material, but Palmer and co-screenwriter Michael A. Weiss are most interested in flashback POV footage, cheating from time to time with camera angles only the producers' mothers would be forgiving enough to accept. (Sure: When a trio of uninfected survivors hole up in an uninhabited farm house, the property's barn is bound to have four security cameras set up on the interior, with another one or two monitoring the sheep pen.)
Judged against movies of similarly humble means, Alone moves relatively well through its first half, as we watch Jacob realize he's stranded in the mountains not with bears but with unpredictably bitey rogues who look like humans. But as he manages to last 16, 35, 60 hours after infection without quite surrendering sentience, the film stretches itself so thin viewers may pray for Jacob to be released from consciousness. They won't be rewarded with much once that happens.
Production company: Abstract Forces
Cast: Gareth David-Lloyd, Gunner Wright, Marshal Hilton
Director: Robert Palmer
Screenwriters: Robert Palmer, Michael A. Weiss
Producers: Robert Palmer, Michael A. Weiss, Suzy Beck
Director of photography: Adrian Sierkowski
Production designer: John Best
Editor: Michael A. Weiss
Composer: Adam Sanborne
Venue: Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest
Not rated, 88 minutes