Brisk, brutal and effective – that describes the shocker opening of “The Disappearance of Alice Creed.” Two men fortify a nondescript British apartment so it can serve as a prison, and then kidnap a woman and tie her to a bed. Before there’s even time to react, we’re plunged into a very nasty situation – but not a simple one.
The brilliance of J Blakeson’s debut lies in how it parses out information and ratchets up the stakes with every scene. Who are these two men? Why have they kidnapped Alice? What is their relationship to each other, and to her? Each leap to the next answer reveals new pieces of the puzzle but complicates the overall picture. And even when the players are known, there are still new surprises in store.
The main surprise – relief, really – is that this is not the latest example of torture porn disguised as entertainment. Working from his own carefully honed script, Blakeson is after something rarer: a thriller that’s both frightening and deeply satisfying. At the heart of its twists and jolts is an understanding of how real people act in desperate situations. Vic (Eddie Marsan) is hard and remorseless, but his dominance over the younger Danny (Martin Compston) turns out to be shaky. And although Alice (Gemma Arterton) is terrorized by the plight she wakes up to, her feral intelligence takes over and shifts the balance of power again. [Synopsis provided by TIFF]