Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston
Extras: Commentary, Deleted Scene, Outtakes
Sometimes simple execution can be the best solution. Richard Linklater's underrated drama 'Tape' comes to mind as a film that took a simple approach to telling a story. There were a total of three characters and the film has one location. That's all it took for Vince, Amy, and John to unearth secrets and share brutally honest feelings about one another. 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed' takes a similar approach. The film also has a total of three characters and the majority of the film takes place in one location. Rather than weigh the pros and cons of relationships and life, Writer/Director J Blakeson wanted to use the approach to tell the story of a kidnapping. 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed' seems simple on the surface, but things get complex in a hurry.
Two ex-convicts, Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) plan and execute a plan to kidnap Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton). They soundproof and secure an apartment, snatch Alice, place a bag over her head and a gag in her mouth, then handcuff her to a bed. All Vic and Danny have to do is follow a well executed plan and the ransom money they intend to collect from Alice's father will be theirs. Before they know it, greed begins to enter the scene. Lines begin to blur and before all is said and done, 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed' twists and turns itself into a dark thriller that teases audiences with a clever script.
There were quite a few times during 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed' where the direction of the film seemed predictable. The solid pace seemed to be headed in an all too familiar direction and will give astute audiences the belief that they are in the driver's seat. Then the film throws a curveball. A revelation leads to some tense moments and the wonderfully talented actors begin to take the story in a direction most won't anticipate. The film throws another curveball. Rather than figure out the outcome of the film, many will quickly realize that enjoying the ride is what J Blakeson wants from his audience. "The Disappearance of Alice Creed" uses a few new tricks to tell an age old story. It doesn't try and reinvent the wheel, it just looks good as the tight 96 minute runtime rolls along.
The acting is excellent. With only three faces, much of the film's success depends on believable characters that bring a story to life. While greed is a major theme in 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed', fear is noticeable throughout as well. You can feel the fear Gemma Arterton brings to Alice as she is scared for her life. There is desperation in her voice and uneasiness to her screams as she attempts to deal with her situation. Vic is an emotionally complex character. The confidence he displays to Danny is a direct conflict since the audience begins to see that he is driven by fear. Eddie Marsan balances Vic well as a man who is scared his foolproof plan may have cracks in it. Martin Compston shows a different type of fear. He is not used to this type of crime and is scared. The three actors bring the same emotion to the film in different ways. Besides the tone and script, this emotional depth provides the film with a raw energy that sets it apart from other crime thrillers.
With a 1080p AVC Encoded transfer, the 2.35:1 ratio of 'Alice Creed' has a solid presentation on blu-ray. Having so few locations and characters help compliment the low budget nature of the film and minimize the focus needed for home theaters. Facial detail and flesh tones are fine while the color palette pops as well as expected given the toned down look of the film. J Blakeson wants to trap viewers in Alice's world, so the dreary, monotonous look of the film helps him achieve this artistic vision in a high definition format. 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed' won't turn heads with its visual presentation, but the additional level of detail certainly gives merit to upgrading to a blu-ray copy of the film.
The Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 mix doesn't get many opportunities to flex, but delivers a crisp soundtrack for this dialogue heavy film. Dialogue levels are well balanced and multi-channel effects are used for some effects and Marc Canham's great score. As with the video, this blu-ray delivers exactly what is expected for a film of this nature.
Anchor Bay has thrown a few extra features on the disc, one of which may be a surprise. Though it isn't listed on the back cover or within the special features menu, audio options will reveal a feature length commentary with Writer/Director J Blakeson. The commentary is fairly straight forward with information regarding the story and challenges shooting the film. Have you ever thought about how to toe the line between an actress feeling uncomfortable and simply being in character? Blakeson did and had a clever way to deal with the potential pitfall. There is also two deleted scenes presented in high definition, 'Phones' (1:43) and 'Alice Gets The Gun' (7:42) are each equipped with an optional commentary by J Blakeson and have valid reasons for being trimmed down. I am usually a fan of 'Outtakes' (4:16), but this extra feature almost takes away from the movie. After seeing a brutal kidnapping and watching one difficult scene after another, seeing the actors laugh and goof off seems a bit odd. I appreciate the addition, but I am not sure it works with this release. Two key scenes in the movie are given a 'Storyboard Comparison' (5:32) for those interested in a sneak peek at the creative process of filmmaking. Rounding out the disc are the trailers for 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed', 'Altitude', and 'I Spit On Your Grave'.
After writing 'The Descent: Part 2', J Blakeson takes things to a new level with 'The Disappearance of Alice Creed'. The acting is great and the script will keep you guessing. The film had a limited run in early August, but will hopefully find a wider audience in the home theater market. If you aren't interested in a blind buy, then put it in your Netflix queue now. This film deserves your attention.