The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) Review

Some films have such a thin plot and fragile elements that they rely on the curse of “stupid decisions.” These are the decisions that characters make that have you shouting at the screen, infuriated that they would go up the stairs to investigate the noise alone or leave the keys on the table near the serial killer they have handcuffed. It’s a curse that is more common in horror movies because they need those stupid decisions to raise the tension and body count. It’s not often that you get it so clearly in a thriller but its central to some of the key moments in the Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Alice Creed is a movie that twists and turns, never has a clear direction and never fails to pull the rug out from under you when you think you’ve worked the movie out. You’re never sure who the good guys are or who the bad guys are, who knows what or who trusts who. Right until the end it keeps you guessing and has more twists and drip-fed revelations than most detective or mystery movies.

Being centered around just three characters keeps it very simple.

It helps that the film is so simply shot too. Just three cast members are involved, all of which play it brilliantly, adding to the fact that you never know who is working with who or who you can trust. Gemma Arterton is the Alice Creed of the title who goes through more than the other two, male actors, by being the kidnapped victim the film centers on. She handles this well though and you can see the potential that has landed her main roles in films like Byzantium.

Martin Compston’s Danny is the lynch-pin to the movie, the person who flips between villain and hero. You are never sure whether you can trust him and who he is working for or with. Each revelation is centered around his character and he plays the mystery brilliantly.

Gemma Arterton has a lot to do…

Both Arterton and Compston are outshone by Eddie Marsden. As Vic, he is terrifying, unpredictable and a great villain. He flips between calm and soft to harsh and violent so well and unpredictably that when he becomes a threat, the film’s tension increases with it. It keeps you involved and leads to a great finale.

It’s just a shame that to move the story forward, there are some moments when the film has to resort to the curse of the “stupid decision.” So many of the key moments, the turning-points and shifts in a character’s relationship and dynamic, are reliant on one of the characters doing something that is clearly the wrong decision. It infuriates because you are literally shouting at the screen, baffled by the actions when the simpler, safer and easier turn of events is always clear.

…but Eddie Marsden is terrifying and shocking as Vic.

It’s a small negative but its worth mentioning because it happens so often. The trade-off is that the “stupid decisions” lead to some great, shocking twists and some very unpredictable but entertaining situations. It all leads to a great climax to the film that wraps up the story in a sensible, comfortable and neat enough way considering how complicated the movie can become.

Overall, the Disappearance of Alice Creed is a very entertaining, clever and unpredictable movie. It has some great acting, an interesting and unique story and manages to keep it fast-paced and energetic considering it’s mainly set in one location. It’s just a shame that it relies too much on “stupid decisions” from the key characters to push the story forward and often you are baffled by the actions of the three central figures.

Rating – 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

It’s a film full of twists, turns and surprises that keep you interested to the end.
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