When directors duo Pisanthanakun and Wongpoom made Shutter in 2004 they stormed the Asian suspense scene and convinced tons of people of their talent. But like many before them, they were soon forgotten and returned back to relative anonymity. Completely unjustified as their later output easily outshines Shutter. I already reviewed 4bia before, up next is Alone.
I was never a big fan of Shutter as it did very little for the genre. It was a pretty basic genre piece that went through the motions rather blandly. Take some long-haired ghosts, some jumpy noises and a good little twist at the end and you have a film that's very much like all these other Asian horror flicks. Ironically, the same could be said about Alone, and yet I found it to be way better than Shutter.
The premise of Alone is pretty standard. When Pim's mom falls ill Pim and her husband return to Thailand to visit her in the hospital. There, Pim is confronted again with the death of her twin sister who died during an operation to separate them from each other. Old wounds are reopened and it doesn't take long before visions appear and loud noises are added to create some big scares. Ah yes, the perks of Asian suspense flicks.
Like many other in the genre, Korean suspense films in particular, there's a very strong dramatic line running below the entire film, creating a mixture that goes beyond simple horror and easing the audience in a somewhat subdued state. Only to scare them awake at given points in the film. An old trick, but one that works if executed well.
Visually Alone is a definite step up from Shutter, with meticulous shots, good sharp editing and impressive sets. There's something about those Thai houses with their green/blue walls that is very attractive to the eye. The cinematography gives the film that extra notch of class that is largely absent in most of its peers.
The soundtrack too is pretty solid, only at the end becoming a tad over-dramatic. Apart from that, the timing is excellent and the noisy scares actually transcendent cheapness. Acting is also strong, with good performances from both leads and their younger versions. Nothing too fancy, but more than sufficient for a film like this.
All things considered, Alone is just another Asian suspense film following in the footsteps of a gazillion others, but executed so well, with so much precision, that it rises far above mediocrity. The difference with Shutter is that it's simply better in each and every aspect, gluing things together in a more cohesive way and creating a far more enjoyable overall experience.
Fans of Shutter should really try and find this film as there is little that can disappoint them. If you were a little disappointed by the directors' first film you should still give this a go, unless you're looking for something original and creatively sparkling. Alone is Asian suspense done right, remaining firmly within the limitations of the genre yet getting as much out of it as possible.