Full Disclosure: InReview was provided with an advanced screener for the following film.
Occasionally, InReview is sent review requests to look at a film that has yet to come out, and Marc Cartwright’s “We Die Alone” is the latest film sent to our virtual mailbag. Set to premier on Amazon Prime on Aug. 21 and on Gunpowder and Sky’s Alter around Halloween, “We Die Alone” is a 23 minute short film starring Baker Chase Powell as Aidan, an awkward thrift store employee who suffers from some form of social anxiety, and has stood up multiple women due to his condition after initially connecting with them online. Aidan lives in what I can only describe as a typical messy apartment inhabited by a singe man, and is fond of puzzles, which he often gets from work.
The film takes a twist when his new neighbor, Chelsea (Samantha Boscarino), gets locked out of her apartment, and the two connect over puzzles and Aidan’s old landline cell phone, as Chelsea alludes to the fact that she lives off the grid. This leads to Aidan asking her out on a date in the most awkward way possible, via a note on her door. She accepts, but their date ends in a violent confrontation. And if you want to know more, you’ll have to watch the film.
Ashley Jones is also in this, as Elaine, Aidan’s co-worker who might or might not have romantic feelings for him, despite being a little older than him. She’s great, but I wish there was more of her in this film.
Really, that’s the summary of my thoughts on this film: I wish there was more, as I honestly think the scenarios Cartwright set up — Aidan, as an awkward protagonist all too similar to Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck in “Joker” turned rugged survivor; Chelsea, the seemingly normal neighbor next door with a violent past; and Elaine, as the one person Aidan has a genuine human connection with — is more than enough for a full-length feature. In fact, in order for this story to properly work, I think extending this story to feature length is absolutely necessary, especially considering that the film attempts to introduce a somewhat complex backstory for Chelsea, but runs out of time before it can deliver anything beyond vague statements about those who wronged her and how she violent altercations with them.
As it stands, there’s a lot of great ideas here, but they are woefully incomplete. I like how the film framed Aidan’s date preparation like a horror film, as it’s something that legitimately scares him, but we aren’t allowed the time to explore why he is the way that he is, or to fully grasp how his anxiety cripples him. Likewise, while Chelsea has the beginnings of a great villain, one that is reluctant but has an affinity for violence, the film doesn’t have the time to develop her into something truly special. The same can be said of Elaine, who in some ways, is the complete opposite of Chelsea, as she is nurturing and understanding of Aidan, and genuinely considers him a friend.
The film is shot well, scripted well, and is all around technically competent. The only sin it has is committing to a story that just can’t be completely told in 20 minutes.
Hulu, if you’re reading this, give this guy a budget. I firmly believe that this film, extended to feature length, would be more entertaining than many entries in your “Into the Dark” anthology series.