Reed Morano’s I Think We’re Alone Now opens with a wonderful, calming sequence in which Peter Dinklage’s Del meticulously cleans a house. He strips it of resources and takes a family photo for his records. A little later, we learn he also wraps the nearly mummified bodies he finds and buries them outside town. It’s a gentle process, telling us a lot about this character while also offering the dark vicarious fantasy many share of being the last person on earth.
But Del is not the last person on earth. His easy solitude and perfect routine is shattered by the sudden arrival of Elle Fanning’s Grace, who he finds alive in a wrecked car and cares for until she’s able to leave.
She does not want to leave of course, and after bugging Del for a day, he finally relents and grants her permission to stay in his town, which he cleans and maintains as a way of warding off the “chaos” of the apocalypse. Del is a misanthrope who rather prefers being alone. Her presence is wild and enthusiastic compared to his brooding silence, but one gets the sense of his irritation shifting to something more positive. Slowly.
Morano lets us luxuriate in this situation for a perfect amount of time. There’s no rush, no real conflict, just the story of two people’s lives at the end of the world. It can’t go on forever, of course, but it lasts just long enough that we feel it when outside elements finally assert themselves.
Yes, I Think We’re Alone Now changes things up in its third act. A movie like this has to. I’ve heard rumblings of discontent from peers about where this third act goes. I adored it. In fact, I feel it’s what makes the film special. I suspect some got lost in the surface trappings of a prestige film, when in fact the film’s soul is much more comparable to an episode of The Twilight Zone, effective and pointed but also very simple.
In any case, the first hour of the film is a delight all its own. Reed Morano's take on the apocalypse deserves acclaim, as do the film's two lead performances. I Think We're Alone Now may be a more thoughtful, quiet genre film, but it's still a genre film all the same. And a great one, at that.