Is Alone (2020) Inspired by a True Story?

Directed by John Hyams, ‘Alone,’ the horror thriller film charts the unnerving story of a woman’s solitary fight for survival after she falls victim to a stranger’s twisted violence. Jessica, a recently widowed woman, undertakes a days-long drive to find a new start after her partner’s tragic death. However, a strange man crosses paths with the woman on the road, sending her journey into a deadly spiral. Kidnapped and trapped in a remote cabin, Jessica must use her wits to overpower and outsmart her assailant and make it out of the nightmare alive.

The film builds a tense situation, presenting a chilling insight into Jessica’s experiences as her solo trip across cities ends up taking a grueling turn. Thus, the narrative brings an authentically effective account of the situation— from the woman’s initial paranoia regarding the strange man to her realized fears. Nonetheless, is there any truth behind the characters and their storylines?

John Hyams’ Alone and Its Origins

Although ‘Alone’ is not based on a true story, the film’s subject matter remains intrinsically authentic to real life. The film is a Hollywood remake of the 2011 Swedish-language film, ‘Försvunnen’ (Translated to ‘Gone’). The latter’s filmmaker Mattias Olsson, who wrote and co-directed the Swedish film, penned the screenplay for ‘Alone,’ basing the remake’s narrative around the previous film.

Furthermore, the initial premise of attracting a dangerous personality’s attention after overtaking a vehicle on the road remains undeniably entangled with the 1971 film, ‘Duel,’ which operates within the same structure. In fact, Director Hyams shared his opinions on the same, expanding, “I always wanted to do something like that that was so stripped down.”

“In the case of ‘Duel,’ it’s literally a one-hander— it’s a guy and a truck. And this one [‘Alone’], it created this two-hander, and it was able to sustain that all the way through. So I just felt like this was a great way to test myself as a filmmaker and try to not rely so much on just the volume of violence but rather the sustained threat of violence.”

Even so, despite the film’s ties to existing filmographies and writings, the storyline itself remains primarily fictitious. Yet, the story’s content revolving around the dangers lurking in the dark, targeting women in potentially vulnerable instances, holds a connection to reality. While working on ‘Alone,’ Hyams was consciously aware of his thriller’s social reflection of its time.

“[And] Seeing the hostility that people face in the world just for being women is something that is, again, something that we can use in the genre setting to create tension and horror, but also to create a character like Jessica, who is not someone who makes bad decisions and does something where you’re yelling at the screen and saying— don’t do that,” The filmmaker said in an interview with Daily Dead. “No, she’s, I think, exhibiting a lot of caution and intelligence, and yet still this confrontation is inevitable.”

As such, the film’s ties to the reality of kidnapping, violent abduction, and trafficking sustain ties to the reality of such horrors. According to 2022 statistics, 64,956 females over the age of 21 and 206,371 under reportedly became victims of missing person cases. The numbers relating to the criminal horror women face in the real world showcase the high probability of the events that unfold on screen within the film, affirming its realistic and authentic narrative.

Moreover, Actress Jules Willcox— who skillfully brings Jessica’s vulnerable yet fierce persona to the screen, referenced Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, a real-life serial killer in relation to the fictional antagonist presented in ‘Alone.’ The real-life killer, identified as Joseph James DeAngelo, holds a different, more expansive criminal history than Sam in ‘Alone.’

Still, the former’s seemingly double life— one where he viciously raped and murdered numerous people and the other where he was a retired cop and a grandfather— showcases the sinister reality of such criminals that the film accentuates through Marc Menchaca’s character. Nevertheless, since neither Sam nor Jessica find their roots in actual real-life individuals, their tale remains cemented in fictionality. Ultimately, ‘Alone’ is a fictional film that showcases a brutally realistic aspect of real life.

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