1. Hard Candy
Prior to Juno and the terrible “X-Men: The Last Stand” this is the haunting role that Ellen Page is best known for. She and Patrick Wilson deliver an intimate performance that starts out with sensual implications before turning increasingly tense. Gentlemen, there are some scenes in here that will make you clench. Hard Candy is streaming on Amazon Instant or you can get it from Netflix DVD.
2. Open Water
Proving that taking an adventurous vacation in shark infested waters with your S/O can be a terrible idea, this thriller features a mere two characters for the majority of the film as they try to figure out how to survive together. The sequel, “Open Water 2,” doesn’t do the tension and originality of the first one justice. Stream the first one here.
Now considered a classic of the horror genre, Saw features only a handful of characters with three being the major focus of the film. Even one of those is just a voice. Everything about the film is isolating from the sets to the characters’ motivations to the terrible decisions they’re asked to make. It’s available for streaming on Amazon Instant.
4. Cast Away
“I’ll be right back,” Tom Hanks says to his true love. Of course Tom Hanks doesn’t come right back and we follow him as he learns how to survive alone on an island in the middle of the Pacific while battling crushing loneliness possibly akin to your Friday night. Of course if you can consider a soccer ball a character then he’s never actually alone. Rent it here.
The tale of a miner living by himself on the moon, Sam Rockwell does an amazing job of conveying the isolation and horror of a man who suddenly discovers he’s not actually alone at all. I don’t want to say much more than that at the risk of giving it away but Rockwell puts in an fantastic performance and Kevin Spacey’s voice role is just perfect. See it at Amazon Instant or iTunes.
6. The Others
A surprisingly original thriller that has an even larger message to communicate about the horrors of war, it focuses on the three members of a family alone in a stately countryside manor. There’s also plenty of turns as the family tries to figure out just who the “others” in their house actually are. Amazon Instant has it for rent and so does iTunes.
7. All Is Lost
Robert Redford may have been the artistic heart throb of your mother’s generation but he’s always been an amazing actor. And while the tale of a man encountering disaster while sailing alone may seem like just another solo struggle movie you’ll realize at the end it was never about that. Uplifting to say the least. Amazon has it available for all Prime members but otherwise you’ll need a disc.
8. 127 Hours
Who are you when the repercussions of your recklessness finally catch up with you? That’s the question asked to James Franco’s character when his rock climbing adventure turns horribly wrong and he’s forced to face his choices alone. Based on an absolutely true story. Watch it here on Amazon Instant.
It’s easy to be alone in Space, obviously, but Sandra Bullock made it look action packed in a movie that doesn’t sit comfortably in either the SciFi or Action genres. Unfortunately it’s not available on any streaming format. If you’re one of those dinosaurs who’s still paying for a Netflix DVD plan (I am) then you’re in luck. Just add to queue.
10. Rear Window
While there’s more than a few characters in Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ besides the main ones they’re mostly just plot devices, clues intended to fill out the room of the main three characters. Hitchcock set a high bar for tension in this one and laid the groundwork for nearly every small cast thriller that came after it. Plus, it has Grace Kelly in it which is reason enough to watch it if you ask me. It’s not on Netflix but it is on Amazon Instant.
Made by Richard Linklater, the man who brought you ‘Dazed and Confused’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Boyhood’, ‘Tape’ takes place almost entirely in a single hotel room and shows how the different perspectives of three people can radically change relationships and create grievances that can last a decade. It’s also on Amazon.
From the writer who scribed ‘Eastern Promises’ comes ‘Locke’ a story about Ivan Locke, a man whose life is falling apart. It takes place entirely within a car as Locke drives around trying to fix problem after problem with only a cell phone to work with. Tom Hardy, who seems to be able to deliver almost any character in a believable way, really nails his role here. Stream it here.