5.4/10
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2 user 1 critic

I Die Alone (2013)

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American pacifist Private Finch (Carl Schreiber) finds himself pressured by his superiors to kill a P.O.W. captured from battle. As a direct result of his apprehensions, a fatal ... See full summary »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Pvt. Finch (as Carl Schreiber)
Marc Litman ...
Perry
Peter Stylianos ...
Col. Wiseman
Michael Nosé ...
S.E.
...
Lt. Burton
...
Kim
Jonah Katz ...
Pvt. Stegman
Ryan Keenan ...
Pvt. Foster
Dawayne Jordan ...
Pvt. Richman
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Pvt. Bartlet
...
Ken
Brian Marquez ...
Kyon
Daniel Valent ...
Pvt. Stuart
Sveta Petrova ...
Agnus Finch
Joseph Scanlon ...
Pvt. Bateman
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Storyline

American pacifist Private Finch (Carl Schreiber) finds himself pressured by his superiors to kill a P.O.W. captured from battle. As a direct result of his apprehensions, a fatal confrontation explodes amongst his platoon, and Finch becomes stranded behind enemy lines armed with nothing but limited ammunition and an uncertain sense of direction. Making his way through foreign soil, he encounters a mysterious mailman (Marc Litman) anxious to throw himself into battle. But on their exhausting quest to find a radio and signal for help, it becomes clear that Finch's new friend harbors a few dark secrets that could prove more threatening than the next ambush. Written by Anonymous

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Action | War

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18 March 2013 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
War on a Budget
22 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Filmed in California (where I assume most 1950s made US Korean War movies were filmed anyway) I DIE ALONE does a convincing enough job of transporting the viewer to the battlefields of 1950s Korea. The set-design and costumes in the film are quite good and (with the possible exception of a debris ridden Korean village (?)) it all looks pretty feasible for the period and convincing for what they're supposed to represent (especially the two war bunkers which were shot at the same location, but redressed for the American and North Korean sides respectively). Props are for the most part period correct as well (the only anachronistic weapon likely being a Colt Python revolver used for a game of Russian Roulette (kind of a nice touch given that I heard the instances of the game in THE DEER HUNTER were actually inspired by the Korean War instead)), but it's a little weird to see most of the North Korean soldiers using American weapons (captured or not). Michael Nosé actually uses an appropriate bolt-action rifle (looking like one of the Russian or Chinese models the North Koreans would more likely be using), but it's really only seen in the opening battle scene for some reason. These implausibilities really don't detract from the film though and the most clearly seen budgetary limitation relates (not surprisingly) to the absence (aside from being heard off screen in what is some pretty good sound design) of vehicles like tanks, Army jeeps, and aircraft (though I hear a real Soviet T-34 tank was going to be used originally but had trouble operating). Needless to say, the battle scenes in the movie are quite intense and well staged with some of the best squib effects in a Wild Dogs Production (there's just as much smoke as there is blood splatter). Probably the most unconvincing thing is that despite the massive amounts of rounds being discharged throughout, we just about never see a gun being re-loaded or run out of ammo.

I DIE ALONE is a good looking, well shot film and there are plenty of nice touches that actually give it a very 1950s vibe (stock footage, filters, period music, etc.). One flashback sequence with the lead character and his girlfriend looked jarringly modern, but it's such a minor part of the movie it's easy to overlook. The stock music and audio is pretty nicely utilized, though I'm kind of scratching my head and wondering if the North Korean soldiers would really be listening to what sounds like WWII era Japanese music. The original music by Aaron Stielstra is excellent and sets the tone quite perfectly. Stielstra's score in the film has a very nice Jerry Goldsmith/Jerry Fielding sound to it which fits a war movie like this great.

The biggest flaw of I DIE ALONE is in the many weak acting performances that are on display for so much of the film. I don't necessarily think the movie has pacing issues or anything, but a lot of the poorly delivered dialog seems to make a lot of the movie somewhat hard to bare and go by more sluggishly. This is really a shame actually, because the worst performances are by far from the two lead actors. Carl Schreiber as main character Pvt. Finch gives off charisma and performs adequate at times, but so much of his dialog is delivered with either the wrong (or lack of) emotion. Marc Litman who plays the main supporting character (a mailman named Perry) fairs even worse and is almost completely wooden in his performance or is giving off the wrong inflection with his lines. Even if the character is supposed to be not all there mentally, Litman's performance really isn't very believable. Added to that, it's all the more of a shame since some of the minor character roles are performed quite well. Jeremy Koerner is great as the hard-ass and increasingly fed-up Lieutenant Burton (even if he plays up the fact that he's a cold bastard a bit too much). Peter Stylianos turns in a good, convincing performance as Colonel Wiseman, but his screen time isn't much more (if at all) than Koerner's. The North Korean antagonists are all pretty one-dimensional and don't have much to work with, but such a portrayal works thematically as the general mentality conveyed by the American characters is that they're sneaky little "slanty-eyed gook" and should be treated as less than human anyway.

With all that said, the movie does its job well the majority of the time and is pretty watchable. It certainly entertains and affects the viewer even if it doesn't have all that much new to say on the whole. The twist ending was kind of a let-down for me however open-ended it is. Without spoiling too much I'll say it's the kind of twist that can be really un-satisfying (the phrases "Deus ex Machina" and "cop out" come to mind, but are maybe not the most accurate or appropriate to use here).

All in all, I DIE ALONE is a good watch and a great achievement for director Michael Fredianelli in delivering so much scope and ambition. Worth a viewing, but even if I hate to say it again (like I have for seemingly all of Fredianelli's films since), THE SCARLET WORM this movie ain't.


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