The Disappearance of Alice Creed begins with the two male leads, Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston, below with Marsan) stealing a van from a car park, then taking a trip to buy a saw, a length of cord, a power drill and rolls of carpet underlay from B&Q.
They’re building a prison in what was once a habitable room in a flat. However, they need a victim and make a trap in the woods while attaching a red handkerchief to a tree. A quick trip to a furniture store to buy a bed and assemble it, fix it to the floor, dressing it with a rubber undersheet and the room is complete. Change the numberplate on the van and make the inside suitably-attired to hold someone, then put on security-guard-style clothing and collect your victim…
We next see the pair bringing Alice Creed (Gemma Arteton, right) into the bedroom, strip her naked, tie her to the bed and ball-gag her to stop her screaming. When this gets taken out later to allow her to drink water, she tells them she needs to get back to her daughter, but they reply that they know everything about her… including the fact that she doesn’t have a daughter. The plan is to ransom her for £2million – but she must co-operate. Vic tells her that he doesn’t want to hurt her or kill her, but is prepared to do both if necessary.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed took a while for me to get into it, as it didn’t really exhibit enough tension that I was expecting from a hostage situation with two occasionally dissenting kidnappers. With the knowledge that the pair met in prison, with Vic being the dominating one and Danny being the weak-willed one who will go along with whatever Vic says, that was certainly believeable, but the whole movie only gelled in a number of scenes and not throughout. This could possibly have been because the cast are well-known faces and names and while this did have an original script, it felt like the kind of film that had previously been made in a foreign country with people we’d never heard of, so we wouldn’t have any pre-conceived ideas of how the cast would behave.
However, the film does have a great deal going for it. All three of the cast turn in a decent performance, and Eddie Marsan just *looks* evil, which helps his character. It also takes different turns from the way you’re expecting and therein lies the majority of the tension. This is also the feature-length directorial debut from J Blakeson and one of his talents lies in well-framed shots and making great use of the full 2.35:1 widescreen frame, which is always pleasing to see.
Being released last year, it’s a good job the DVD came out when it did, in October, as had it been released in 2011 following a story like the case with Joanna Yeates, anyone who reads the Daily Mail would have put two and two together to come up with five and kicked up a stink as they often do. Note that I’m not saying anything about the ultimate fate of Gemma Arteton’s character, just equating the kidnap aspect.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and being anamorphic, the picture doesn’t have any problems other than looking a little soft, as DVDs tend to when you watch so many Blu-rays, but it carries off well the grim locations that are spread throughout the movie. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen, with the DVD upscaled via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is mostly a dialogue-driven piece with very little split-surround FX. Again, there’s nothing to complain about. It does the job.
The extras are as follows:
- The Making Of (11:54): Film clips mixed in with chat from director J Blakeson, producer Adrian Sturges and all three cast members. This segment has two chapters.
Storyboards (5:31): Pretty much does what it says on the tin, for the opening scene of the film plus one other key scene.
Extended scene with commentary (8:36): The director tells us about how he filmed a particular scene with more dialogue between two characters, but we can’t hear any of it because this particular commentary track is NOT optional! 🙁
There’s also no subtitles for the extras so it’s not as if you can’t mute him and at least follow what they’re saying. Epic fail!
Trailers: The UK trailer (1:37, cropped to 16:9) and the US trailer (1:14, in 2.35:1). The latter is better, but both give away one of the twists in the story and I’m glad I didn’t know any of them before seeing it.
Extended scene with commentary (11:54)
Audio commentary: from director J Blakeson
The menu mixes images from the film with a small piece of looped theme music. There are subtitles in English only and a woeful 12 chapters over the 96-minute running time. I go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes, taking into account one each for the opening and closing credits. Note to most studios: you are NOT paying by the chapter, so why do you short change all your customers??
Running time: 96 minutes
Distributor: Icon Home Entertainment
Released: October 2010
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: J Blakeson
Producer: Adrian Sturges
Screenplay: J Blakeson
Music: Marc Canham
Alice Creed: Gemma Arteton
Danny: Martin Compston
Vic: Eddie Marsan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.