Released 2020. Director: Marc Cartwright
THE PROSPECTS OF NEVER FINDING A PARTNER AND DYING ALONE is a scary thought for some. The act of reaching out and meeting someone in person is even more terrifying. We Die Alone is a walk down a darkened hallway of abandoned romances littered with fear, doubt, disappointment, apathy and a blood-stained landline telephone.
When we first meet Aidan he’s getting ready for a date. He rehearses his lines nervously in front of a mirror as he adjusts his tie. “You’re beautiful… and I feel we’ve made a connection…” Then we realise he’s having a meal with a mannequin at home while the woman he’s met online is being ghosted.
Baker Chase Powell plays Aidan as a walking bundle of nerves and unease. Out of the three characters in this 24-minute short film, we spend the most time with him and empathise with his predicament. Then he goes and peeps at his new neighbour Chelsea with a creepy curl of the lip and keeps one of her sexy red camisole to feed his fantasy. Is Aidan just a painfully shy guy or is there something more sinister underneath that façade? Powell channels a younger Giovanni Ribisi in a shrewd performance that keeps us guessing what he’ll do next.
While the elements of suspense and uncertainty build slowly, Samantha Boscarino needs no time gaining our trust and monopolising our protective instincts as Chelsea. A contrast to Aidan, Chelsea is open, trusting and perhaps blind to Aidan’s darker side. This is where director Marc Cartwright shows his flair in misdirecting our attention and sympathy for dramatic effects.
Our anticipation for something terrible to happen when Chelsea comes over for an evening of pizza and puzzles takes a turn when it transpires we’ve had our apprehension targeted at the wrong person. If I talk about what happens in the last few minutes I’ll rob you of the surprise so I won’t.
Aidan, Chelsea and to a lesser degree Elaine, Aidan’s co-worker at the thrift store played by Ashley Jones, are three aspects of disconnect. Aidan is incapable to reach beyond online chats, insecure in the real world of physical contact. Chelsea has stopped taking chances after some past trauma that shaped her hardened defeatist attitude when it comes to relationships. Elaine drops enough hints of her feelings for Aidan but gets nowhere because Aidan is too trapped in his own dilemma to notice.
For most of its duration the film percolates as a character-driven piece with simmering tension suggesting something is about to boil over. The final act subverts expectations and takes the story to the edge of horror. Whether you feel it’s a logical progression depends on how far you feel the characters are capable of going.
Watch it alone or watch it with someone you fancy, if you dare.
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