The Disappearance Of Alice Creed
A young woman faces a terrifying ordeal in J Blakeson’s accomplished feature directorial debut. The Disappearance Of Alice Creed is an edge of seat thriller that by its simple design – three characters trapped predominantly in one location – could easily have started life on the stage. The film even adopts a classic three act structure, bookmarked by twists that force us to re-evaluate the fragile balance of power.
The intimacy of the set-up works in the film’s favour, forcing Blakeson to develop his protagonists to sustain our interest and the dramatic momentum. However, the writer-director engineers one hairpin twists too many with a big reveal that sits awkwardly between unintentional hilarity and implausibility.
Disappearance Of Alice Creed
Blakeson opens with a gripping, dialogue-free sequence of pals Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) preparing a van and a flat for the arrival of their victim. “Okay,” growls Vic and the two men drag Alice (Gemma Arterton) off the street, tie her up in the back of the van and then transfer her kicking and whimpering to the specially outfitted flat, which has been soundproofed to prevent neighbours hearing her screams for help. Bound at the ankles and wrists to a bed, Alice lies trembling at the mercy of her captors, unable to fathom why she has been kidnapped. It transpires that Vic and Danny are holding her for ransom – a cool two million pounds – and they expect her millionaire rich father to pay in cash to secure her safe return. When Vic leaves to make contact with the old man, providing Danny with precise instructions in his absence (“Don’t sleep, check on her… and don’t drink!”), Alice senses an opportunity to ply her feminine wiles and extricate herself from a hellish situation.
Gemma Arterton as Alice
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed was filmed on location on the Isle Of Man, although the majority of the picture unfolds in the interlocking rooms of Vic and Danny’s safe house. The brisk tempo established in the opening frames allows Blakeson to crank up the tension as he withholds just enough information so that we cannot second guess his intentions. Given Vic’s volcanic temper, it’s uncomfortably clear that Alice may not live through her ordeal. The director practices equal opportunity nudity, so while Arterton’s captive is stripped for chilling opening scenes, one of the men follows suit when the tables are unexpectedly turned.
Simple and Solid
Strong performances galvanise Blakeson’s vision, particularly Marsan who literally spits out the film’s pivotal line as if his life depended upon it. We end up sympathising with Vic much more than we expect. After such a confident build-up, the ending feels like an anti-climax as the writer-director searches for some clever pay-off but has to settle for cheesy convention. All in all, a very impressive debut. What else ya got, Mr Blakeson?