Get Degraded Early and Often in The Disappearance of Alice Creed


In suspense films about confinement, characters may be kidnapped or tortured, but the real captive is the viewer. We’re stuck in our seats, powerless against manipulated time and repeated turnabouts, eager, or at least morbidly curious, participants. For all of its stylistic ambitions and cool triangulations, J Blakeson’s debut does little to modify or interrogate the genre, eagerly trading on the spectacle of a young, pretty girl tied up. Rhythmically and visually, Blakeson takes an economical, methodical approach, documenting the grim preparations of two kidnappers, Vic and Danny (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston), from a place of chilly reserve. Their plan and process, which gradually, inevitably comes asunder, is the engine of suspense, recalling Hitchcock’s Rope—until a second-act reveal outdoes even the master’s own psychosexual hysteria. Marsan scowls and spittles, Compston bares gleaming teeth for all occasions, and Gemma Arterton completes the trio by getting stripped, splayed, and degraded early and often. Blakeson’s feature-length calling card has storyboarded austerity and sadomasochistic promise but in the end lets the game play out in a familiar flurry of double-crossings, two-timings, and false deaths, content to only fetishize itself.

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