I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW is the latest directorial effort of Reed Morano (Meadowland, The Handmaid’s Tale). Set in the aftermath of a nearly extinction-level mystery epidemic in upstate New York, Del (Peter Dinklage), the town librarian, has set about the task of cleaning up the town and recording the data of the now deceased former residents. “Cleaning up” entails driving to every house, inspecting the contents, taking all the photographs and batteries (batteries are the hottest commodity in an off the grid situation such as this), and most importantly and unfortunately, removing the bodies and burying them.
Del proves himself to be very resourceful and seems to be at peace with his situation, being the last man standing after a horrible tragedy. He has set up a schedule and routine to keep himself from going insane, and has a relatively nice living situation set up in the library. We’re not too sure how sad or shocked he is because he’s the only person in the town, for a little while at least.
Then one day as he is making his rounds, he sees a car crashed into a stone wall on a curb. Another person is inside and we can tell that this is quite a shock to Del’s system. The driver of the car is a late-teens/early-twenties girl. Del bandages her head wound and we’re then taken to when she wakes up, in the bed of the house that Del had intended to clean that day.
When she wakes up, we quickly discover that our second survivor is Grace (Elle Fanning), and she has an entirely different outlook on the situation she finds herself in than Del does. She has a million questions for Del, and he is not having it. In one particularly funny exchange, Del says to Grace “Why are you asking so many questions?” and Grace says, “That’s what people do, they ask each other questions”.
Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Del, at first seems to be a close approximation of how life would’ve been like for Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) from the classic episode of The Twilight Zone, “Time Enough At Last” if his glasses didn’t break. Del seems irritated that another person is there, eager and willing to share his burden. He has built a very intricate system that dictates his daily life and adding another person into that equation was not part of the plan.
Grace has a very different perspective of this brand new empty world in which the two of them live. She wants to travel to Niagara Falls, and keep a stray dog they find as a pet, and most importantly she wants to know why this whole thing happened in the first place, and why she survived. In one scene she tells Del that her father died on the toilet and her mother died on the elliptical. She doesn’t think that’s fair. She asks Del why he thinks everyone died. She wonders if it was the rapture, or what exactly. Del says, “It doesn’t matter”.
This is the crux of the first two acts of I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW. It is a character study on how two very different people handle a tragedy and how they’re supposed to handle life with the other person. It’s extremely relatable to regular life and how we choose to navigate our interpersonal relationships. Then the third act opens up a whole other can of worms that even further explores the possible points of view that one could have after a near-extinction level event.
I had the distinct pleasure of attending a screening of I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW in the Dolby office. So, in conjunction with that, the sound design on this film is absolutely incredible, highlighting the hollow emptiness of living alone in a world that’s meant for other people. Reed Morano is the cinematographer as well as the director and she captures the desolate beauty of an empty upstate New York town. The beautiful old Victorian homes, The Hudson River. It’s shown to be simultaneously idyllic and depressing, which mirrors Del’s viewpoint perfectly.
Mike Makowsky (Take Me, Daytona) really outdid himself with this script; it manages to be a tragicomic sci-fi/horror romance without being cheesy. Additionally, as I stated previously, the character study of the dichotomy of Grace and Del is very intriguing and had me thinking about how I would behave in such a situation were I ever in it. Also, the ending, it’s so incredible but I won’t dare spoil it for anyone.
I can’t end this review without discussing how incredible both Elle Fanning and Peter Dinklage are as Grace and Del. Their approaches to these characters are very interesting and in a way, I really couldn’t imagine anyone else playing these parts. I’m interested if the roles were written with them in mind. Dinklage really captures the quiet well-hidden anguish that Del tries his best to hide from Grace, and most importantly, himself. Fanning is perfect as a young woman who wants nothing more than to remember her loved ones when other forces really don’t want that for her.
I highly suggest seeing I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW when it hits theaters September 21st, recommended for fans of Handmaid’s Tale, Peter Dinklage, and Elle Fanning. I am incredibly excited about Reed Morano’s career trajectory, and think that from here, she can only do more excellent work.