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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Disappearance of Alice Creed
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // November 23, 2010
List Price: $29.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Preston Jones | posted November 16, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie

For its first half-hour, The Disappearance of Alice Creed is one of the year's best films. Gripping, hypnotic and grimly methodical, the mundane details of two men preparing for a kidnapping draws viewers in, setting the stage for a tension-filled rollercoaster ride that hurtles along towards an unsettling finale. But as good as that first 30 minutes is, writer-director J Blakeson can't quite sustain the suspense for the film's entire 96-minute run time, as pesky things like plot and dramatic structure necessitate the introduction of events that dilute, somewhat, the sinister set-up.

Danny (Martin Compston) and Vic (Eddie Marsan) are shown preparing an apartment and a van for their victim, Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton). There's scant context beyond her abduction and the men's apparent skill at creating isolated, sound-proof spaces. Alice is swiftly snatched up outside her front door and deposited into Danny and Vic's airtight hideout, bound and gagged.

What follows hinges upon a number of revelations, that, if shared, would ruin what Blakeson has carefully wrought. Without treading into spoiler territory (and, frankly, if you've seen even one kidnapping-gone-awry flick, little of this will come as a total shock), I can say that allegiances shift, motives are called into question and not everyone is who they say they are. I will say, given how the story was progressing, that I admired Blakeson's conviction in following his unpleasant tale through its logical (and bleak) conclusion.

Effectively a three-character piece, the actors are uniformly terrific, with Arterton, in particular, adroitly handling a role that, on paper, would appear to be both unforgiving and unflattering. Marsan delivers yet another unlikable villain, in what's fast becoming his stock-in-trade (although, late in the film, he displays some unexpected pathos). Compston, perhaps the most fascinating character in the piece, excels precisely because much of what unfolds involves him surprising you.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is, taken together, a satisfyingly nasty thriller, certainly a cut above what Hollywood doles out on a regular basis. For its first half-hour, writer-director J Blakeson creates a feeling of pervasive dread, mingled with an irresistible urge to find out exactly why these two men are methodically preparing to abduct a young woman. Although the filmmaker can't sustain the mysterious, compelling vibe, Creed doesn't flinch from the story's inevitable, dismal conclusion and the three actors gamely deliver taut, mesmerizing performances.

The DVD

The Video:

The Disappearance of Alice Creed arrives on DVD sporting a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. It looks darn near immaculate, befitting a recently filmed production. Black levels are suitably inky, with sharp detail and vivid, albeit slightly washed out, colors (this is a stylistic decision, not a shortcoming of the DVD transfer).

The Audio:

The English, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does its job without really calling attention itself, largely because Alice Creed is a dialogue-heavy affair. The few moments of action allow the soundstage to spring to life, but mostly, composer Marc Canham's score works in the background, careful not to intrude upon the dialogue, which is heard clearly, free from distortion or drop-out. If you have a hard time, particularly with the two kidnappers' accents, optional English and Spanish subtitles are included.

The Extras:

Writer-director J Blakeson sits for a commentary track, wherein he expands upon the nuts and bolts of his artistic choices, as well as some of his cinematic inspirations (including Alien) and his distaste for conventions and clich├ęs in suspense films. Fans of Alice Creed will find a lot to enjoy here. A one minute, 43 second deleted scene ("Phones," presented in anamorphic widescreen) is offered with optional Blakeson commentary. A seven minute, 42 second extended scene ("Alice Gets the Gun," presented in anamorphic widescreen) is offered with optional Blakeson commentary. Four minutes, 17 seconds of outtakes are on board, presented in anamorphic widescreen. Five minutes, 32 seconds of storyboards, presented in anamorphic widescreen, illustrate the rigorous shot planning. The film's theatrical trailer, offered up in anamorphic widescreen, completes the disc.

Final Thoughts:

For its first half-hour, The Disappearance of Alice Creed is one of the year's best films. Gripping, hypnotic and grimly methodical, the mundane details of two men preparing for a kidnapping draws viewers in, setting the stage for a tension-filled rollercoaster ride that hurtles along towards an unsettling finale. But as good as that first 30 minutes is, writer-director J Blakeson can't quite sustain the suspense for the film's entire 96-minute run time, as pesky things like plot and dramatic structure necessitate the introduction of events that dilute, somewhat, the sinister set-up. Although the filmmaker can't sustain the mysterious, compelling vibe, Creed doesn't flinch from the story's inevitable, dismal conclusion and the three actors gamely deliver taut, mesmerizing performances. Recommended.

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