By JP Chapman | August 6, 2010
Director: J Blakeson
Writers: J Blakeson
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan
Now, I’m a pretty big fan of movies out of the UK. Ask SLSS founder Dave, and he’ll confirm that if the overwhelming majority of cast members have accents, and there is a presence of Brit-pop or British rock in the soundtrack– I’m 90% sold on a movie regardless of what happens therein. So, I went in to The Disappearance of Alice Creed not quite sure what to expect story-wise, but at least pleased that I’d be able to listen to soothing (or humorous) accents for the next 100 minutes. In the course of watching the film, I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the more unique kidnapping films I’ve seen in quite some time, with amusing twists and turns of the plot throughout.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed begins with two men quietly preparing what looks to be a construction project of some sorts, albeit in a manner that seems a little too sinister for their own good. A domineering Vic (played by Eddie Marsan), and a smaller/submissive Danny (played by Martin Compston) quietly steal a van, remove the plates, then bring a number of supplies to an empty flat in an unidentified city of the UK. Slowly but surely, they transform a once empty bedroom into a sound-proof prison, complete with a perversely constructed custom bed outfitted to lock down its future occupant. Expertly disposing of evidence tying them to the various crimes leading up to their future action, the duo lie in wait- ultimately kidnapping a young woman as she exits her house. Crushing any dignity the girl once had, the duo strip the young woman and tie her down to the bed they’ve built; all while taking horrifying pictures of her desperate face. In the course of Danny and Vic’s conversation, we learn that the two met in prison, and have been planning their elaborate kidnapping for quite some time. The girl has a rich father, is worth 2 million pounds to them, and is their ticket to a better life. Surprise upon surprise awaits them as the film continues…
The Disappearance of Alice Creed probably caught me more off guard than any other movie I’ve seen in quite some time. I’ve seen quite a few kidnapping movies, and frankly expected this one to be a generic torture film (a la Captivity or Hostel), due largely to the presence of current “it” girl, Gemma Arterton (especially after her inclusion in Prince of Persia this summer). However; I was pleasantly surprised to walk out of the film feeling like I’d seen a unique story, carried by three unsuspectingly competent actors. Nothing against Gemma Arterton, but thus far I’ve definitely seen her as more of a pretty face than anything else. In Disappearance, she not only holds her own, but turns in what I felt was an impressively believable performance. Previously a bit player in such films as Sherlock Holmes and The Illusionist, Eddie Marsan turns out the standout performance of Disappearance though. Completely absorbing himself in the character of “Vic”, Marsan caught me off guard and will more than likely be a strong presence in both American and UK cinema moving forward. While still turning in a decent performance, the one shortcoming of the cast was probably Martin Compston, who—while still turning in a good performance—didn’t stand out quite as much as his two cast mates.
I’m going to purposely limit much more information about the film, as surprising plot twists are one of the best parts of Disappearance. As the movie progresses, J Blakeson’s witty story isn’t the cinematic achievement of our generation, but is definitely fun to watch. That being said, The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a film that is unfortunately sure to be missed by the majority of the American population. Its tenuous subject matter and scant production will result in it flying under the radar of most film-goers stateside. However; this is a truly unique and enjoyable film that I would definitely recommend as one indie that is worth seeking out. Writer/Director J Blakeson has turned out a surprisingly strong first effort, that is a fun ride-start to finish.