As horror continues to burn bright at the 2023 box office, plenty of smaller indie horror movies are finding their way onto to VOD and streaming platforms. From writer and director Jimmy Giannopoulos and starring Ashley Benson, Alone At Night is a neo-slasher set in the world of cam girls and Internet sex. Though the blending of sex and violence feels right at home in a slasher, Giannopoulos looks like he has a bit more to say about the pairing in a digital era where online misogyny is rampant. To date, few reviews have surfaced so Alone At Night remains something of an unknown quantity.
After her boyfriend breaks up with her and kicks her out of their place, webcam model Vicky retreats to a friend’s cabin to put her life back together. She continues to model and live-stream with clients on a site called 18 & Over to keep some income coming in. But soon frequent power outages seem like more than just random interruptions. Stories of a ‘Crowbar Killer’ slowly take on a very real meaning for Vicky as more strange men turn up on her doorstep.
Alone At Night Can’t Decide What It Wants To Be
Two things jump to mind about halfway through Alone At Night. One, Ashley Benson’s ‘Vicky’ is rarely alone in the movie, at night or any other time. And writer and directory Jimmy Giannopoulos has made an eccentric little horror movie that rarely feels like a slasher. Straight out of the gate, Alone At Night kicks things off like any other slasher with a fairly brutal opening. Afterwards Giannopoulos occasionally reminds us that this is in fact a horror movie occupied by a maniac referred to as the ‘Crowbar Killer’. Moreover, Vicky’s interactions with one client, who insists she refer to him as her ‘husband’, tease a looming threat reminiscent of the similar Girl House. Yet much of Alone At Night feels like it wants to be a very different movie – more of a quirky indie drama than anything else.
And writer and directory Jimmy Giannopoulos has made an eccentric little horror movie that rarely feels like a slasher.
There’s plenty of oddball moments throughout the indie thriller that give it a bit of an idiosyncratic vibe. Yet for most of its runtime, Alone At Night rarely feels like a horror movie. That is, Giannopoulos doesn’t make much of an effort to build suspense in spite of his story teasing several red herrings. Familiar horror elements bookend the movie with its opening sequence standing out as one of the better moments. While it’s certainly not downhill from that point onward, Alone At Night’s climax feels like it’s going through motions of a neo-slasher. Maybe Giannopoulos wanted to do something different – he just can’t seem to commit to any one idea.
Alone At Night Finds Ashley Benson Anything But Alone
Arguably, Ashley Benson (Spring Breakers, Pretty Little Liars) is the best part of Alone At Night holding together the movie across its tonal inconsistencies. Like Madeline Brewer in Cam, Benson humanizes sex workers, ensuring her portrayal of ‘Vicky’ is layered and complex. She’s both vulnerable and resilient in the role, giving audiences a character that is easy to like and empathize with. In spite of its title, Vicky is rarely alone regardless of the time of day. Joining Benson in this indie thriller, Jake Weary (Animal Kingdom) and Sky Ferreira (The Green Inferno) both feel criminally underused. In what may be the strangest cameo appearance in recent memory, Luis Guzman turns up as one of Vicky’s online clients in an endearing turn.
Like Madeline Brewer in Cam, Benson humanizes sex workers, ensuring her portrayal of ‘Vicky’ is layered and complex.
Unfortunately, cameo appearances from Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton only exacerbate problems with the thriller’s tone. In particular, Hilton’s bits as hostess of a ‘Big Brother-esque’ reality show distract from the movie and ultimately play a part in what’s a completely unnecessary twist. What’s really unfortunate about Alone At Night is that there could have been a very timely story. Specifically, Giannopoulos touches on the kind of misogynistic hate we’ve seen among incels that has tragically resulted in very real violence against women. Though the ideas are there in small doses, Alone At Night never does much with the potential thematic threads.
Alone At Night a Quirky, If Not Entirely Successful, Mix of Horror and Indie Fare
Overall, Alone At Night is a narratively and tonally inconsistent movie saved somewhat by Ashley Benson’s performance. Somewhere amidst everything Giannopoulos is trying to do in this neo-slasher feels much more interesting courtesy of Benson. Like Madeline Brewer’s role in Cam, Benson humanizes her character and delivers a performance that’s equal parts quirky and engaging. As a neo-slasher or just a general horror movie, however, Alone At Night isn’t entirely satisfying. By the time the credits are rolling, it’s not clear if Giannopoulous was satirizing misogynistic culture or making a horror movie. But the end result is mostly watchable.