Two men kidnap a young woman and plan to become rich from a ransom. Their hostage is Alice Creed, daughter of a rich businessman, chosen by Danny and Vic as their passport to a better life. Terrified and immobile at first, it soon becomes clear that Alice isn’t about to let her captors use her as capital without a fight. As determined to escape as Vic and Danny are to succeed, Alice enters into a battle of wills which strains the already fractious relationship between the two men. As the deadline for the exchange draws nearer, all three are brought close to breaking point, with Vic and Danny’s foolproof plan descending into a desperate struggle for survival.
‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ is the third feature film written and directed by J Blakeson. The film has a small cast relying heavily on each actor’s performance to give substance and emotion to the material. Gemma Arteton, Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan all deliver on what is demanded from them by providing a strong sense of emotion and investment in gripping scenes.
From the opening scenes of the film, the viewer’s attention is drawn immediately to the characters as they display their intriguing and somewhat withdrawn relationships. Early on the film cleverly makes minimalistic use of dialogue yet manages to portray so much on screen for the audience to take in.
The first act maintains an extremely intense situation for a long period of time, the secretive details of the situation are slowly revealed allowing the suspense and intrigue to be maintained through the portrayal of a terrifying situation. Unfortunately I found after the film sets such a high benchmark for itself that after the first act the terror and heightened sense of fear isn’t maintained and it somewhat settles into a more relaxed flow as the rest of the story unfolds (which isn’t to say the rest of the film is relaxed, only that it is more so when compared to the first act). Fortunately after this initial dip the characters deliver some real substance and surprises throughout the remaining two thirds of the film making this a great all round thriller.
The real success in this film lies within the interaction of the characters as their motivations and relationships with each other are fleshed out over the course of the film. A less capable cast would have left this feel feeling somewhat slow but despite the tension not being able to be maintained the emotion and story of the characters provide for a compelling film.
Blakeson’s direction is well crafted as he sets up a tangible environment which makes the most of a modest budget. By the end of the film Blakeson manages to remind the audience of their emotional investment with a series of nice slow shots capturing the environment and the emotional conclusion as the audience reflects on the events that took place.
‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ is an intriguing suspense thriller, which then quickly turns into a compelling drama.
I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars, it’s released in Australian cinemas on the 9th September.