Alice Kills mixes elements of Psychological and Body Horror to create a surreal descent into one woman’s oblivion. This is perhaps the best film released to date by Bloody Disgusting Selects’—definitely a crown jewel.
It’s pretty much a given that any film featuring a protagonist named Alice/Alyce will draw on themes from Alice in Wonderland; indeed Alyce Kills alludes to Lewis Carroll’s opus with semi-frequency. We hear “White Rabbit” on the radio. A bartender presents a concoction and says, “Drink me.” Alyce wears a key around her neck, creates an altar with a ceramic white rabbit in the center, and at one point declares: “Off with your head!” It’s also no coincidence that Alyce’s best friend is named Carroll. Alyce Kills is one helluva trip down a seriously twisted hole.
Check out my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: After accidentally knocking her best friend off a roof, Alyce is haunted by guilt and delves into a brutal nightmare wonderland of sex, drugs and violence, her mind tearing itself apart…along with anyone else who gets in her way.
If Alyce Kills had been my film, I would not have revealed the specifics of the event that sent Alyce into her downward spiral, because what came as a jolt at the end of a deceptively upbeat First Act could have been an absolute shock. Until this moment Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) and Carroll (Tamara Feldman) are having one of the best “Girl’s Nights Out” ever committed to film. The dialog and energy between these characters seems completely genuine; sparks literally fly as these two cavort around town, drinking and drugging all the while. Revealing Carroll’s fall in the synopsis and on the back of the DVD also destroys what could have been an intriguing ambiguity in that pivotal moment; we never actually see Alyce’s hands push Carroll’s body—and there’s even a slip involved. Of course Alyce assumes it’s her fault, but the filmmakers could have presented a gnawing “what if?” What if the fall wasn’t Alyce’s fault? Well then, her descent into bloody chaos would have been all for naught.
There’s a lot going on in the subtext of Alyce Kills, including thematic explorations of obsession, identity, and morality. We’re given some indications that Alyce may have been slightly off-kilter before the horrible incident on the roof. The ladies’ night of debauchery began after a period of separation. The exact details are not discussed, but a reference to Single White Female speaks volumes. We’re also told that Alyce doesn’t have any other friends. So while she seems upright, level-headed, and responsible we have an opaque picture of who she was before the film began. Indeed, Alyce seems to have a sexual attraction to real-life violence, as illustrated by her fascination with war-journalism (and a scene where she masturbates to these broadcasts). So is she a good girl who finds herself devastated by circumstance, or was she predisposed to insanity? Who the hell IS Alyce?
The surprise standout in Alyce Kills is a drug dealer named Rex (“Sexy Rexy”) played by Eddie Rouse with incredible talent. Rex is the film’s Mad Hatter, holding court over his minions, or as he calls them, “The Lords of the New Church”. His manic, psychedelic soliloquies cut to the meat of the subtext, expounding on the abstracts of control and criminality. It’s a condemnation of Alyce’s life before the fall; sure she held a job, but she wastes her days staring at a computer screen under the supervision of a royal c-word, doing a banker’s dirty work for clients of extremely ill repute. Don’t get me wrong, Rex is a complete sleaze—no one to be admired. Yet it is under his mentorship that Alyce begins to find her center (her fucked up, psychotic center).
Writer/director Jay Lee is clearly a Tarantino protégé in both storytelling and presentation, so fans of that style of pulp and humor will definitely enjoy this film. Indeed, Alyce Kills has some truly powerful and disturbing scenes, including the most uncomfortable funeral I’ve ever seen (I dare you to watch it without squirming). A sex scene between Alyce and a steroid-case named Kurt (played by a very funny Max E. Williams) is also equal parts intriguing and painful. Eventually, the film descends into surreal nightmare world not unlike the dream sequences in Heathers—except Alyce isn’t sleeping. The gory moments are infrequent, but powerful; the practical effects are amazing and will probably rattle even experienced Horror aficionados.
Okay, straight up, the Third Act meanders, but not so much that it undercuts the film’s steady intensity. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself wondering “Where the hell is this movie going?” Still, it’s not such a misstep that I wouldn’t whole-heartedly recommend Alyce Kills to my fellow aficionados—I will, and I do. It’s a complex presentation of an intelligent woman’s descent into madness, similar in vibe to winners like May and Excision (and only slightly inferior, due mostly to Alyce’s lack of character development—an issue that sometimes makes it hard for us to empathize with her).
Flawed, perhaps, but Alyce Kills is a great trip.
3.5 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|release date (Limited/VOD)||May 21 2013|
|studio||Bloody Disgusting Selects|
|starring||Tamara Feldman, James Duval, Eddie Rouse, Jade Dornfeld|