The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)
By: Rip on February 7, 2011  | 
Icon | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: J Blakeson
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan
Screenplay: J Blakeson
Country: UK
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The Disappearance Of Alice Creed opens with a couple of low-rent kidnappers just out of jail, Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston), preparing to kidnap a young woman by the name of Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton), who is the estranged daughter of a wealthy business man. They line a van with matting, nail rubber to the walls of a room in a nondescript apartment, attaching bolts to the doors and hardware to the bed. After disguising themselves as policemen, they haul a screaming Alice into the van and bring her to the room. They then gag and tie her to the bed, rip off her clothes and photograph her naked. Redressing her, they place a sack over her head and then leave. Sans credits and dialogue, this beautifully edited opening sequence is really all I can tell you about the utterly riveting British crime thriller that is, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed. To say anymore would be to spoil the many surprises the film has in store.

Almost the entire film takes place in one location, that being where Alice Creed is held. This audaciously simple set-up therefore eschews any contact with the world outside of the meticulously reinforced apartment, so some pretty neat narrative tricks are required to maintain interest. And first time feature director J Blakeson (who also wrote the The Descent 2) has some real gems up his sleeve. The restricted scenario effectively evades creative dead-ends by honing in on the psychology of crime and there are at least two unexpected twists (or reveals, as director Blakeson prefers to call them) that occur early in the film that, at least for me, came as a surprise. These moments may seem somewhat contrived, and probably will to some viewers, but I thought they were still grounded in reality and carried off brilliantly by the sheer commitment of the actors. With only three faces, much of the film's success depends on believable characters to bring it all to life and the three performances here are impeccable in their realism.

Gemma Arterton (Quantum Of Solace) delivers her best work to date as Alice and she really nails the emotional stuff, especially so in a heartbreaking moment that involves a video-taped ransom note. Arterton says she refused to use a body double during the scene in which her kidnappers rip and cut her clothing off while she is cuffed to a bed, all because she wanted to feel real fear. It's a strong moment and very difficult to watch. Scottish actor Martin Compston (Doomsday) is spot on as Danny, the weaker of the two kidnappers, and once again, the great British character player, Eddie Marsan (V For Vendetta), steals the show as the both chilling and vulnerable ex-con kidnapper, Vic.

Director J Blakeson's work here is remarkably assured, given that this is his debut feature and the fact that he is responsible for the terrific script. He creates an effectively claustrophobic atmosphere and palpable level of suspense throughout. The tightly constructed script is never in sync with the audience's expectations and the beautiful scope photography belies the film's low budget. It's also very well edited by Mark Eckersley and features a haunting music score by Marc Canham that creates an all pervading sense of dread.
Icon Entertainment present this film in its original aspect ratio of 2:35, with 16x9 enhancement. Whilst it's not reference quality, it's clear and fairly sharp, and devoid of any of those horrible little digital nasties.
English Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 are the options here. Given that the film is dialogue based, there is still some nice incidental surround effects to add to the atmosphere that is so well created. Good stuff.
Extra Features
We get a very interesting and insightful commentary here from director J Blakeson. Aspiring film makers will love it. Also included are a short 'making-of', an extended scene with commentary, storyboard comparisons and two trailers.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed was one of the best British films of last year, and for those who missed it at the cinema, it plays wonderfully on home video. An incredible debut for director J Blakeson and I believe he is a fellow to watch out for. With a terrific script and superb performances, this is one nail-biting thriller not to be missed.

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