Eighteen minutes into The Disappearance of Alice Creed I had it all figured out. The opening scenes of the film had been quite impressive as two men went through the preparations for an abduction with meticulous attention to detail. The opening sequence featured no dialogue but introduced Marc Canham’s haunting score that permeates the rest of the film; at times chilling and melodic, the music serves to escalate the sense of tension and foreboding. However, once the actual abduction had taken place, it seemed that a level had been reached and I guessed what would happen next.
Two men had kidnapped a young girl and what would follow would be a typical story of manipulation, romance, and a dash of Stockholm Syndrome where the girl would wear down the weaker of the two men before escaping. I’m happy to say that I was absolutely wrong. The Disappearance of Alice Creed is full of dramatic plot twists and surprises and nothing about this film is predictable. It certainly didn’t follow the formula that I imagined in my mind.
It is difficult to give a synopsis of The Disappearance of Alice Creed as the first of several plot twists occurs very early on in the film. It is about a kidnapping and Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) is the daughter of a multi-millionaire. Vic and Danny (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston ) are ex-cons who served time together in prison and they hope that the £2 million ransom will be their big payday. Terrified beyond belief and humiliated by the physical reality of being stripped of her clothes and tied up, Alice Creed is nevertheless not giving up without a fight. While so many abduction films deal with the families and logistics around the ransom drop and police investigation, this is a film that focuses on just three people and their thoughts, emotions, and manipulations.
In his first feature length outing as director and writer, J Blakeson delivers a dark and compelling film that will keep audiences at the edge of their seats, hearts pounding in their ears for the full 96 minutes. Most of the film takes place in a tiny apartment and Blakeson and cinematographer Philipp Blaubach went for a very specific visual style. The lighting and camera techniques convey a sense of claustrophobia, darkness, and escalating unease.
Gemma Arterton is a rising star and has since starred in Quantum of Solace and Prince of Persia. Her terror and fear were almost tangible in this film and she gives a fine performance. It is no surprise that Eddie Marsan is absolutely convincing as the menacing and controlling Vic. Last seen as Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes, Eddie is a regular on the British film circuit and has twice been the recipient of the British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. The biggest surprise in the film comes from Martin Compston. J Blakeson had been looking for a young Colin Farrell when casting the role of Danny and Scot Martin conveys that charm, passion, and dark appeal perfectly. He is incredibly easy on the eyes and expertly portrays Danny’s nervous and unsure demeanour before launching into a far stronger and more manipulative role in the film.