I Think We're Alone Now (2008)Overview -
I Think We’re Alone Now is a 2008 micro-budget documentary about the power of fandom through the lens of mental illness. The film explores the lives of two fanatics hopelessly obsessed with 80’s pop icon Tiffany from a sympathetic perspective. Utilizing a raw and unfiltered aesthetic the film may lack the structure needed for some to understand the troubled perspectives of the subjects. ETR Media brings the cult documentary to Blu-ray with a respectable A/V package and plenty of bonus features for fans of the film. Recommended.
This feature documentary is an intimate portrait of two people who are deeply in love with the 80’s pop singer Tiffany.
Jeff Turner is a 50-year-old man from Santa Cruz, California with Asperger’s Syndrome. He has a very friendly and childlike spirit and can talk to anybody for hours on end but finds it difficult to maintain relationships and has never had a girlfriend. He has been attending Tiffany concerts since 1988 and describes her as his “best friend, mentor and protector.”
Kelly McCormick is a 35-year-old intersex person from Denver, Colorado who identifies as a lesbian. She loves running, watching action movies and doing impressions. She has also never been in a romantic relationship but says that she loves Tiffany “down to her bone marrow.”
Both Jeff and Kelly have been called “stalkers” by the media and other Tiffany fans but this film allows them to share their side of the story. Filmed over the course of six years, I Think We're Alone Now takes you deep into their lives, and shows the power of having something to believe in.
directed by: Sean Donnelley
starring: Jeff Turner, Kelly McCormick
2008 / 61 min / 1.33:1 / English DTS-HD MA 2.0
- Region A Blu-ray
- Jeff Turner Commentary track
- Kelly McCormick Commentary track
- Director's Commentary track
- Kelly update short doc
- Jeff update short doc
- Jeff on Natalie Wood
- Jeff's Alyssa Milano update
- How the movie came to be (short animation)
- The Mysterious Tiffany Letters
- Arlon's Angelic Visit
- Marshall Weeks and Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Kelly's poetry
- Kelly's impressions
- Preston B. Nichols short doc
- Dan Wholey "Snakes" music video featuring Preston B. Nichols
- English SDH subtitles
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Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
“The difference between me and a stalker is they don’t truly love the individual.”
The film opens on documented stalker Jeff Turner as he excitedly regales the camera with his knowledge about Tiffany’s life and his interactions with the 80’s pop icon. The giddy demeanor continues as we see returned letters, court documents, and newspaper clippings of the former teen star. Suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, Jeff latched onto Tiffany after seeing her on TV in the early ’80s. “Tiffany and I have known each other most of her life and we are in love with each other,” he tells the camera rifling through stacks of papers. Beyond the surface, Jeff’s connections to Tiffany stretch into numerous scientific realms which feature homemade brainwave contraptions meant to form a bond between the two.
Soon we’re introduced to Kelly McCormick who after falling into a coma in 1987 listened to the song I Think We’re Alone Now and claims she had a vision of the pop star. “My destiny is to be with Tiffany,'' says Kelly realizing that the vision is proof of their love. Born intersex, Kelly became her true self after high school but still dealt with gender issues and mental disorders resulting from the coma. Her home is a shrine to the 80’s teen star with every wall covered in photos. Unlike Jeff, Kelly can’t reproduce facts about Tiffany or says she’s ever met the teen star.
Through numerous scenes, Kelly never comes off as a creepy fan like Jeff because her motivations are deeper and not based on “science." She is unquestionably more troubled and needs help which is why her fandom is centered on intense love and acceptance. Jeff seems happy with his life and could go on as he is regardless of Tiffany’s involvement, but Kelly’s disjointed existence fraught with identity issues makes meeting the pop star all that more important than another factoid in Jeff’s arsenal of Tiffany interactions. We meet a few of Jeff’s friends whose interviews add context to his actions and obsessions. Kelly on the other hand has very few people in her life save for a roommate who provides support but offers little beyond the surface praise for Kelly’s emotional strength.
Filmed with DV cameras on and off for nearly seven years, I Think We’re Alone Now has a piecemeal aesthetic as we follow Jeff and Kelly around hoping to gleam more about their lives. This plays to its advantage allowing for an intimate look that feels personal rather than sterile. The feature culminates in the two subjects meeting in Las Vegas to attend a Tiffany concert which for Kelly appears like a holy pilgrimage fraught with existential questions. For Jeff, it's a chance to diminish Kelly’s experience with his own list of Tiffany interactions. The '80s star does appear in the film during concerts and meet-and-greets but never acknowledges the cameras. Her presence alleviates a vacuum created by the non-stop banter about her but the filmmakers clearly know that this film isn’t really about her at all.
I think we can all relate in some way to Jeff and Kelly. There is some piece of pop culture that we hang onto because at one point it saved us. I’m happy that we get the cringy footage of Jeff interacting with Tiffany because I think it alleviates our tension that he may be dangerous, but what we get is a goofball chatting up a celebrity backlit with the uncertainty that he may become dangerous. Whether it's giving an 80’s pop star a questionable “hug” or sending sketchy DMs to an Instagram model, obsessive fandom is everywhere. Latching on to something that provides relief and structure can be healthy but don’t take it too far, ok? Seek help before it's too late.
What the film does well is to avoid the salacious and exploitative details of court cases and instead gives us an understanding of how two people have dealt with traumas in their lives through an igniting piece of pop culture. Thankfully we don’t get bogged down with interviews of psychologists and law enforcement to explain celebrity obsessions. The time spent with the subjects as they open up about their lives provides enough for an audience to form their own opinions about the power of celebrity fanaticism intertwined with mental illness.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
I Think We’re Alone Now arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of ETR Media. The Region A Blu-ray disc is housed in a simple transparent keepcase. Loading the disc presents the ETR Media logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing against typical navigation options.
I Think We’re Alone Now arrives on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p image in the film’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Originally shot with early handheld DV cameras, the feature retains plenty of digital noise and a flat color palette. Primaries are apparent with reds and blues stronger in costuming and interior scenes. Detail is limited given the source format but closeups reveal some facial features. Black levels are inconsistent. Compression issues are not apparent.
The film’s only audio option is a passable DTS-HD MA 2.0 that serves the feature well considering the on-camera microphones used in the production. Dialogue exchanges are clear with only slight hiss detected in outdoor settings or those in which the subjects are moving within the scene. Scoring elements are pronounced but offer little conflict with the rest of the mix. English subtitles are available.
ETR Media provides a surprising amount of extras on this release. Multiple commentary tracks, bonus footage, and new interviews with the subjects of the film make for an impressive list. Cruise through the extras before finishing up with the Director's Commentary to get the full experience.
- Audio Commentary from Jeff Turner
- Audio Commentary from Kelly McCormick
- Audio Commentary from Director Sean Donnelly
- How the Movie Came to Be (HD 2:52) An amusing history of the film’s genesis told through animation.
- Jeff Update (2022) (HD 4:01) A brief look at Jeff’s life since the film’s production wrapped.
- Jeff on Natalie Wood (SD 1:13) Jeff drops a bombshell about his connection to the murdered actress.
- Jeff on Alyssa Milano (SD 2:57) We get a taste of how Jeff’s been spending his time with Alyssa.
- The Mysterious Tiffany Letters (SD 2:32) Doug gives us an insight on another connection between Jeff and Tiffany.
- Jeffisms (SD 1:33) Some choice words from Jeff.
- Arlon’s Angelic Visit (HD 2:24) A brief visit to a care facility where Jeff lived years ago.
- Marshall Weeks & Rhythm Gymnastics (SD 3:14) Marshall details his experiences at the ‘84 Olympic Games.
- Kelly Update (2022) (HD 8:27) A look at Kelly’s life since production wrapped on the documentary.
- Kelly’s Poetry (SD 2:11) Kelly reads some original work.
- Kelly’s Impressions (SD 2:05) A rapid-fire run of celebrity impressions.
- Preston B. Nichols (SD 6:06) Amateur brainwave researcher Preston Nichols discusses time travel and shows off his workshop.
- Music Video (HD 4:12) Snakes by Dan Wholey featuring Preston B. Nichols in dual roles.
As an exploration of dangerous fandom, I Think We’re Alone Now successfully uses its raw unfiltered approach to mine an authentic portrait of the troubled subjects. Lacking any judgmental perspectives the film sympathizes with Jeff and Kelly while letting them reveal their true selves which can often be a cringy affair. In a world blurring the lines between fan and celebrity, the film is more relatable than ever. ETR Media brings the film to Blu-ray with a respectable A/V package and loads of bonus features for obsessive fans of the film. Recommended.
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