Brides-to-be in Staten Island are getting bumped off by some wacko with matrimonial issues and a penchant for poking sluts with a knife.
You gotta love that title. The general consensus on He Knows You’re Alone seems to be poor, bordering on revulsion. This is undoubtedly due to the restrained violence and blatant hijacking of John Carpenter’s Halloween which premiered 2 years prior. Some of the scenes are almost shot-for-shot comparable to Carpenter’s masterpiece; even the music is too close for comfort. Needless to say, despite the obvious potential for lady carnage He Knows You’re Alone doesn’t deliver the goods.
Amy (Caitlin O’Heaney; Savage Weekend, Three O’Clock High) is preparing for her wedding, and is ostensibly the next girl destined to feel the killer’s cold blade slide into her supple ladyflesh. She spends most of her time wandering around in a daze while her ex-boyfriend Marvin (Don Scardino; Squirm, Cruising) continuously hounds her to dump her fiancée and marry him instead. In between banal everyday bullshit, Amy keeps seeing this fucking weird guy standing outside her house and/or following her around, to which all her friends think she’s seeing things (naturally). The bodies pile up and soon enough Amy is running for her life from the knife-wielding maniac. You know the drill.
It’s hard to mess up a slasher film. Give us some sexy girls to stalk, a creepy/mysterious assailant and toss in some blood and gore for good measure. Entire empires have been built on this shit, it’s not rocket science. But every once in a while a film comes along that shakes things up due to its ingenuity in one way or another. Halloween worked based on the strength of the characters and the fact that the killer was the faceless unstoppable embodiment of pure hatred. The presence contained therein made you not give a shit that there’s hardly a drop of blood in the entire film.
Obviously a film like Halloween is the exception, not the rule – particularly in the case of He Knows You’re Alone. Evidently Armand Mastroianni (Cameron’s Closet, The Supernaturals) was content on trying to ride the coattails of the films that preceded this that there was no need to bother with the shock and awe that became so widespread in the decade to follow. This is sadly a case of a film thinking it’s far more ingenious than it really is. Tits. Blood. It’s really that simple. According to Mastroianni, He Knows You’re Alone was often confused with 1979’s When a Stranger Calls based on the similarities in title. Make no mistake, He Knows You’re Alone doesn’t come near the brilliance that is When a Stranger Calls; not even close.
The killer is probably the most compelling aspect of the film – there were quite a few instances when he was stalking the main girl where he just bleeds out of the shadows or you find he was standing right behind her the whole time, creating a sense of unease and an almost sickly darkness. The ugly bastard murders people with reckless abandon and although the kills are sorely lacking in onscreen bloodshed, he’s a very convincing harbinger of death. The locations are excellent, predominantly near the end of the film which was allegedly shot in an old tuberculosis hospital in the 1920s (complete with underground tunnels connecting the wards). Such fantastic locales are sadly wasted on a film with such a lack of conviction.
As if to throw its now smut-starved viewership a bone, there’s a short shower scene courtesy of Elizabeth Kemp (The Killing Hour) where she lathers up her lady bits; a welcome diversion but not nearly enough to steer this sinking ship into more exciting waters. Also of note is the screen debut of Tom Hanks (Bachelor Party, The ‘Burbs) as a dorky Psych major trying to slip the sausage to Ms. Kemp. He disappears from the film about as quickly as he emerges.
He Knows You’re Alone will be of interest to those who would like to see Tom Hanks before he transformed into Steven Spielberg’s cum dumpster, and for slasher completists. Those looking for a more robust experience would do best to search elsewhere.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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