Written and directed by Marc Cartwright, co-written with Cassie Keet, a chance encounter dangerously intertwines the lives of three people with differing perspectives on love. Starring: Samantha Boscarino, Baker Chase Powell, Ashley Jones and Darielle Deigan.
The classic ‘dangers of the internet’ speech has had to incorporate a lot more avenues as the possibilities slowly become endless but the one thing that has stuck around is being aware that you may not be talking to who you think you are, especially on dating sites. One such person who occasionally pretends to be, what he likes to think of as, a different version of himself is Aidan (Powell). Immediately introducing this habit will push audiences one of two ways, whether you still sympathise with him because he poses no real threat or whether you believe this is symptomatic behaviour of something more dangerous. This could colour the rest of your experience watching the film but what’s actually fascinating about it is how far it can push your sympathy and expose the very subjective grey area of this aspect of ethical behaviour in our time.
Aidan’s character has a lot of the typical characteristics you’d expect to find, socially awkward, shy, old fashioned style and hobbies, it will feel very familiar but if you notice the details where he starts to deviate from that familiarity, your suspicions might start to pick up. Baker’s performance captures both sides of the coin, how the Internet enables someone like Aidan to be able to interact with new people but also how it can cause him even further issues in handling real life interactions. It goes down the path of not knowing what to do when you start to realise that you have the chance for a genuine connection with someone you’re attracted to. He portrays that conflict well, you can see the anxiety behind his eyes and he exudes that incredibly nervous energy. Introducing Chelsea (Boscarino) into the mix nicely adds a whole extra level of ethical ambiguity, it’s a slightly more black and white area of discussion but it genuinely strikes a larger question of who the real victim is and the intentions behind their actions. Her performance is great, it starts out very casual but slowly brings out a darker tone, there’s one very pivotal second where her entire body language changes and you know what’s about to happen that’s a perfect signifier of the quality of her portrayal. The only character not diving into murky ethics and simply trying to do her job and maybe meet someone along the way is Elaine (Jones), her character may be slightly secondary to the story but she gets a couple of important moments, and her acting in her final scene shows her talent in the subtle shift of facial cues as she pieces together the puzzle.
The writing captures that ethical ambiguity well and uses it to bring forth a heavy dose of tension. Aidan’s character is written in a manner that gives you cause for concern and pulls you further in by being genuinely unsure of what he’s capable of. The story is nicely paced, it builds slowly but with a strong impact, there are smart touches to his behaviour that rise the level of tension. Though it certainly gives you hints as to what direction it’s going in, it still has a few surprises in store, it’s always a refreshing addition to have some unpredictability. The direction keeps itself up close and personal, it doesn’t get distracted with other factors, it strictly focuses on its characters and works very well. It keeps your attention fairly effortlessly and creates a very strong atmosphere quickly that remains throughout. There’s also some great work done in creating the sets, there are several touches to Aidan’s apartment that are red flags to his capabilities. The costume work is modern but gives Aidan enough slightly old fashioned choices that fit his personality really well.
We Die Alone asks a lot of questions, it tests your perspective and likely its viewers won’t all agree on who was right and who was wrong. It’s well written and directed with a couple of twists thrown in for an even more satisfying experience. Cartwright has put together a great team to create something full of tension, suspense and dangerous possibilities that is firmly rooted in reality.