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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Alone (2020) on IMDb

Plot Overview

PackingTwenty-something Jessica (Jules Willcox) had married a magician for his flashy tricks. When the economy tanked and his gigs weren't paying the bills, he took “the coward's way out”; then after six months the bank came through and Jess had enough money to relocate (“It's time to move on.”) She packs a U-Haul trailer with her modest pos­ses­sions—except the potted sapling that didn't fit—, hitches it to her car with the Oregon plates (sporting a pine tree emblem,) and hits the road out of Portland. Across St. John's Bridge, she travels, over the river and through the woods. With the Willamette River on her right, her GPS advises her her north­ward destination is four days away. She's packed but she isn't packing, nor would we expect her to, considering her hubby's manner of death.

In two days the roads have gotten narrower and narrower, so we figure she's really trying to get off by herself. She listens to audio books for company. She pumps her own gas, which is illegal to do in Oregon, so we figure her location for some­where in Washington State. She makes a dicey pass around a flagger—or is it a texter?—in an SUV, shortly before her turn­off that her GPS wasn't ready yet to announce. Sam Dillon (Mark Menchaca) the other driver pegs her as being out of her element here and contrives a way to apologize in person. People are affable in the Pacific North­west, but there's something creepy about this fellow. Some­what like drivers in a Paul Levine novel:

In front of me was a Jeep with a sail­board on top and the red-and-white “diver down” decal pasted on the body, just above the license plate. In case we already didn't get the point, there were two bumper stickers: “Divers Do it Deeper” and “Have You Gone Down Lately?”

Actually, no.

Still, that was a lot less offensive than the old bumper sticker from the Cocaine Cow­boy days: “Honk if You've Never Seen an Uzi Fired Through a Car Window.”

No thanks. (215)

middle age manSince this is a thriller movie, we peg Sam for a garden variety psycho­path who set up his base of operations where screams will be unheard and friendly over­tures not spurned. It's his good fortune that his broke-down vehicle, arm in a sling, and thick eye­glasses evoke the props of the magician husband. It's his bad luck to have kid­napped a magician's assistant who can escape a locked room, secretly lift his cell phone, and conjure up who knows what on it. An aide is used to being guil­lo­tined on stage, skewered with swords, or sawn in half. When psycho­path Sam jabs, plugs and bodily slams her, why, she takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.


Once out of confinement, though, she'll find herself in a vast forest she has no idea where. Much cinematic effort is devoted to displaying the canopy of leaves blowing in the wind, the nexus of roots under­foot, and the relent­less rain watering the ground. We think of the sorry sapling stuck in a planter on the side­walk, how it would be right at home in this wood­land with other trees. Not Jessica, though. She'd be better off on the side­walk surrounded by civilization. We might formulate her predicament as, (Eccl. 4:9-12)

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall with­stand him; and a three­fold cord is not quickly broken.

After we've witnessed Jessica do her stuff, we can't help but think her husband magician might have done better to use her more in his act, to “have a good reward for their labour.” Then he wouldn't have needed to take an extraordinary measure.

Wandering and pursued, Jessica encounters a lone hunter Robert (Anthony Heald.) There are no other hunters seen in the area or shots heard. His Oregon license plate says he's a long ways from home. He's evidently come to this remote area out of season to do some poaching where game wardens are few and far between. Jess's tale of woe conflicts with Sam's cock-and-bull story, and Robert is under­stand­ably reluctant to involve the police. If he had a buddy with him, he'd be harder for Sam to get the drop on, but he doesn't.

There's also the matter of Jess's cold bare feet. Robert is happy to lend her his wife's boots, but no Robert, no boots.

Finally, Jessica phones two parties with Sam's cell. Now, even if he kills her, some­body will be looking for him. And if he doesn't manage to kill her, his smooth talking is unlikely to convince both of them. The three of them all but guarantee his goose is cooked.

Production Values

” (2020) was directed by John Hyams. It was written by Mattias Olsson, being a remake of the 2011 Swedish film, Försvunnen (Gone.) It stars Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, and Anthony Heald. The actors—all three of them—were well chosen and gave sterling per­for­mances. MPAA rated it R for violent content and language.

The photography was sublime, but the back­ground forest noises were over­done; those tweety birds never let up. The music blended in rather than trying to dominate the whole picture as some­times happens in B-movies. The thunder­storm darkened the mood for sure, but lightning is relatively rare in the Pacific North­west. This can all be forgiven.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Sometimes less is more. Most of the background drama is revealed by Jessica crying over cell videos in her motel room at night, and by her psycho captor acting as her canny ad hoc therapist. This gives the feeling we are privy to her inner secrets outside of the camera's glaring spot­light. The cat and mouse pursuit in the forest is second to none. This drama cum thriller can't be beat.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Levine, Paul. Bum Rap. Text copyright © 2015 Paul Levine. Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2015. Print.