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Why is this obscure 2020 pandemic thriller a hit on Netflix? And is it worth watching?

Jules Willcox in Alone.
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The Netflix algorithm can be difficult to predict, even for Netflix itself! Netflix can spend a ton of money on its own original films or movies from other studios, and yet there are still completely unheralded flicks like Alone that come out of nowhere to snag a spot on the list of the most popular movies on Netflix. We already picked Alone as one of the best thrillers on Netflix for the month of March, but that was before it became an unexpected phenomenon on the streamer.

Since Alone didn’t get a wide release in theaters, the vast majority of movie lovers may not realize why this survival thriller is taking off. That’s why we’re sharing three reasons why you should watch Alone on Netflix.

Jules Willcox has a breakthrough performance

Jules Willcox in Jessica on Alone.
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Jules Willcox has had a solid career playing supporting roles in film and TV, but she’s rarely had the chance to take a leading role. Now, four years after Alone was released, its sudden popularity could be very good news for Willcox. In the film, Willcox carries the narrative for long stretches of time, and she’s particularly good near the beginning of the movie. Willcox plays Jessica, a woman who is in a great deal of emotional pain, which is why she’s trying to make a new life for herself.

The viewer gets to see Jessica wrestling with her inner demons before she’s forced to fight for her life, and that goes a long way toward building empathy with her. When Jessica has to slip into final girl mode to survive a killer, she proves to be a worthy movie heroine as well.

Marc Menchaca plays a chilling villain

Marc Menchaca in Alone.
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In his 2020 review for RogerEbert.com, writer Odie Henderson compared Marc Menchaca’s unnamed man to “an older version of The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders.” It’s a funny line, and an apt comparison because the movie reveals that Menchaca’s character is a family man who has a wife and kid. He gives off a very non-threatening vibe — when he’s not trying to kidnap or murder someone.

But that’s just the man’s public persona. Jessica sees the man as he really is. He’s the monster whom she has to outwit and defeat after he kidnaps and drugs her, before bringing her to the middle of nowhere. His menacing presence is in complete contrast with his physical appearance, but it’s the way that he psychologically torments Jessica that makes him scary. It’s not enough for the man to harm or kill her. She is his prey, and he enjoys the hunt.

It’s smarter than the average thriller

ALONE Official Trailer (2020) Survival Horror Movie

It says a lot about modern thrillers when one of the best aspects of Alone is that Jessica never behaves like a moron. She never trusts the man, and she completely rebuffs his attempts to get close to her before he finally kidnaps her.

When Jessica makes her escape from the man’s cabin, she doesn’t really make bad decisions. Without giving too much away, someone else makes a poor choice that affects Jessica. But she’s very competent, especially when it’s her life on the line.

Watch Alone on Netflix.