The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a nice indie picture from that is pretty intense and unrelenting from beginning to end. The film also features three great performances with rising star Gemma Arterton standing out amongst them. The Blu-ray has a surprisingly amazing looking picture and good if not adequate audio.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2010)
Anchor Bay | R – 100 min. – $34.98 | November 23, 2010
Directed by: J Blakeson
Writer(s): J Blakeson
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan
Theatrical Release Date: August 6, 2010 (limited)
Features: Audio Commentary, Featurette, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Outtakes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 4/5
The crime was simple: kidnap a rich man’s daughter (GEMMA ARTERTON), demand two million in ransom and get away scot-free as millionaires. That was the plan hatched by Vic (EDDIE MARSAN) and Danny (MARTIN COMPSTON) but even the best laid plans fall apart… The set-up was perfect as the two make preparations stealing a van, buying/retrofitting a bed, making a crappy apartment bedroom soundproof and destroying evidence. The execution went off without a hitch kidnapping the girl, Alice, getting her into the apartment, tying her up and getting the pictures needed to demand the ransom. Perfect thus far, but alterative motives threaten to undo it all.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed is actually a really good, small and taut little thriller directed by J Blakeson making his feature-length directorial debut and only his second script after The Descent: Part 2. Many times first time directors fail in terms of pacing and the overall story, but here Blakeson doesn’t faulter and I only wish we had these smaller pictures here in the States more often, even if they’re direct-to-video (Alice Creed received a limited release in August 2010).
What I liked the most about this film was how it keeps the tension throughout the entire 95-minutes and never deviating from the main – and only – characters as other thrillers of this ilk tend to split the time between the hostage/kidnapers and a rogue cop chasing down and catching the villains, rescuing the damsel in distress.
Instead, we stay with the three characters and other than the very beginning and the final act, we primarily stay within the apartment as the kidnapers go in and out of the bedroom where Alice is being kept while she tries to figure things out and uses one of their weaknesses to hopefully make a getaway. This is not to mention the tension and distrust that develops between Vic and Danny that ultimately reveals a fairly shocking twist towards the middle of the film.
Aside from Blakeson’s tight and effective direction, the performances of course cannot be overlooked. Although Martin Compston – whom I’m not entirely familiar with outside of a movie called Red Mist – gives a fine performance and the underrated and oft underutilized Eddie Marsan (most recently seen in Sherlock Holmes) is perfect as the heavy baddie, the prize has to go to Gemma Arterton who gives one of the best, yet understated, performances of the year with really little to do often times as she’s limited in both speech and mobility throughout the film outside of a few moments during the second act.
Of course I highly doubt Arterton will receive much recognition even in the UK but to see her transformation from her first notable role in 2008’s James Bond film, Quantum of Solace followed by another blockbuster from 2010, Clash of the Titans (she also apparently has a role in the upcoming Men in Black III), but neither of those roles can compare to the emotional torture and anguish she experiences in Alice Creed.
All in all, The Disappearance of Alice Creed may not be the thriller to end all thrillers but it is one of the better movies in the genre that I’ve seen in quite a while. By no means is it perfect as there are moments in the story that become a bit too heavy, but I still found it to be an enticing little film that I highly recommend checking out be it via rental or in-story purchase.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2/5
There’s not a whole lot on the disc except a deleted scene (1:43; SD), an extended scene (7:42; SD), both accompanied with optional commentary by J Blakeson, a selection of outtakes (4:16; SD) containing flubbed lines, a storyboard comparison (5:35; SD), a feature commentary with Blakeson and the theatrical trailer (1:21; HD).
The commentary is obviously the best of the bunch as you get to learn how the story came to be, shooting certain scenes and giving his insights on the performances. It’s not the best track I’ve listened to as I usually prefer multiple participants, but you’ll learn a thing or two about the production.
Note: For some reason (1) the commentary isn’t even listed on the back cover (but it is on the DVD version) and (2) it’s under the Audio submenu within Set Up.
VIDEO – 5/5
Presented with a 2.40 (the back cover mistakenly says it is 2.35) aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition, The Disappearance of Alice Creed looks fantastic on Blu-ray with a crisp picture void of any imperfections like dust, scratches or heavy grain and noise. The detail level in every scene is excellent such as the many close-ups on each character seeing the pores in the skin or liquid in their eyes, this is one of the best video transfers I’ve seen, especially in the U.S. direct-to-video realm.
AUDIO – 4/5
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track meanwhile sounds decent enough although this is a very dialogue heavy movie mixed in with a score, by Marc Canham who has primarily composed music for video games, which fills in the rest. There is one gunshot that provides a sense of depth but otherwise this is merely a nice audio soundtrack that gets the job done which is all I can ask.
OVERALL – 4/5
Overall, Damned by Dawn is a tale of two halves with the first half of the film being a truly terrifying, well crafted horror film before going to complete crap during the second half and primarily third act. The movie isn’t the best indie horror but the Blu-ray doesn’t fare very well either with substandard audio and video though getting two commentaries a nearly hour-long documentary was good to have, however.