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“The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” Reviewed

“The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” Reviewed (photo)

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During the first 15 minutes of “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” writer/director J Blakeson makes clear he’s going to spend the next 85 trying to wow you. There are no words spoken between tough guys Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston, only the sound of doors closing, screws being tightened and sandwiches being eaten when they take a break from soundproofing a room that will be used to keep the titular Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton) from knowing her whereabouts while she’s held for ransom.

Though there’s a £2 million price on her head, the audience is not to know immediately why she’s been kidnapped or what exactly is motivating her captors, who proceed to strip her naked, gag her, chain her to a bed and ask her not so politely to relieve herself in a funnel when nature calls. And still, those could be considered minor inconveniences when compared to the torture clearly going through Alice Creed’s mind, searching for what she could’ve done to deserve this and who are these masked men that have kidnapped her.

Omission is a particularly cruel form of psychological terror and it’s what Blakeson cleverly plays upon for the dramatic tension in “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” a thriller too nasty to appeal to fans of mass-market potboilers yet too literally bloodless to be filed under horror. Instead, it wields information as a weapon far more threatening than the guns Marsan and Compston’s thugs brandish in front of Arterton’s Creed, with the trickle of personality traits, past affiliations and present loyalties serving up the torment for the players and twists for those watching.

08052010_DisappearanceofAliceCreed2.jpgThat it wields that information so bluntly at times can probably be chalked up to Blakeson’s immaturity as a storyteller, this being his second film after the direct-to-DVD sequel “The Descent II.” As Creed writhes around in fear, sometimes in sweats, sometimes not, for the first act, the build-up fluctuates between intriguingly incendiary and needlessly exploitative, before the pressure of providing the audience with the comfort that they won’t be watching a snuff film forces the characters into some situations that don’t feel entirely natural.

Yet by giving himself the limitations of a three-person cast in largely one setting, Blakeson is able to take control as things progress past its provocative introduction and benefits greatly from being blissfully free of the plot diversions that so often bring down the energy in thrillers such as these. Blakeson was equally wise to cast the older, pug-faced Marsan (“Happy Go Lucky”) opposite the younger, naïve Compston (“Sweet Sixteen”), both of whom are good enough to cut through the film’s need for exposition with a single curled upper lip or quizzical glance.

The fact that “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” is held together by great performances sets it apart from whichever genre it’ll be invariably lumped into, but it’s a testament to its writer/director’s investment in creating characters worth caring about that ensures it’ll be dragged kicking and screaming towards classification of any kind. And for a film that strives to leave you breathless, that’s a breath of fresh air.

“The Disappearance of Alice Creed” is available on demand and now open in New York and Los Angeles.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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