How Steven Spielberg inspired this Netflix survivalist thriller hit
(Credits: Elena Ternovaja)

Film News

How Steven Spielberg inspired this Netflix survivalist thriller hit

Psychological thrillers often tiptoe the line between gripping and downright goofy. But one particular film soaring on the Netflix global charts this week has been lauded for its minimalist approach to survivalist thriller and it was inspired by a Steven Spielberg film.

Clocking in at third place on Netflix’s global top ten list of films, Alone has captured audiences with its understated brilliance. The John Hyams film has raked in 5.9million hours viewed and 3.6million individual views in the week between March 11th and 17th. 

Directed by Hyams and penned by Mattias Olsson, Alone stars Jules Willcox and Marc Menchaca. The tension-building is superb in Alone. This film has earned its stripes with a sleek, no-frills approach that has critics and audiences alike singing its praises. Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times applauded its “elegant simplicity” and “single-minded momentum”, noting how the film’s irritations are easily excused. 

The premise is deceptively simple: Jessica (Willcox) finds herself on a solo road trip through rural Oregon after a personal tragedy, only to encounter a mysterious man (Menchaca) whose intentions quickly turn sinister. What follows is a white-knuckle game of cat and mouse, as Jessica must rely on her wits and survival instincts to outmanoeuvre her relentless pursuer.

Speaking to Heather Wixson of the Daily Dead, Hyams shared how the script of Alone immediately reminded him of Steven Spielberg’s Duel. “I always wanted to do something like that that was so stripped down,” Hyam acknowledged before delving into some of the tonal commonalities between Duel and Alone.

“In the case of Duel, it’s literally a one-hander, it’s a guy and a truck. And this one [Alone], it created this two-hander and it was able to sustain that all the way through.” The director explained how this helped hone his skills, “I just felt like this was a great way to test myself as a filmmaker and try to not rely so much on just the volume of violence, but rather the sustained threat of violence.”

What sets Alone apart from the sea of psychological thrillers isn’t just its tight script or stellar performances—it’s the palpable sense of atmosphere. From the desolate landscapes of rural Oregon to the claustrophobic confines of Jessica’s car, Hyams crafts a world that feels eerily familiar and unsettlingly tense.

So if you’re in the mood for a thriller that’s equal parts gripping and understated, look no further than Alone on Netflix.