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Film / The Disappearance of Alice Creed

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The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a 2009 British thriller film directed by J Blakeson starring Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, and Eddie Marsan.

Two men, Danny and Vic, kidnap local rich girl Alice Creed and hold her for a $2 million ransom to be paid by her wealthy father. They keep her Bound and Gagged and Chained to a Bed in a soundproof room, making sure to keep her fed, hydrated, and alive to ensure that her father gives them the money. Although Vic is a calm and seasoned professional, this is Danny’s first involvement in a kidnapping, and his doubts and hesitation may threaten their chances of success.

A Dutch remake of the movie was made in 2014 (Director: Joram Lürsen, of, in the Netherlands, Love Is All and Family Way's fame) called Bloedlink (International English title: Reckless, though the literal title translation would be more something akin to "Tough As Nails").

MAJOR SPOILERS follow. As the film depends heavily on twists and reveals for its impact, spoilers are unavoidable. If you want to keep your surprise, watch the film first, then come back here. And don't click any of the icons on the top of the page. You Have Been Warned.

The Tropes of Alice Creed:

  • Ambiguous Situation: Exactly how consensual is the love between Vic and Danny and if it ever was consensual to begin with, rather than situational? Vic side of it seems to be genuine, if overbearing. Danny is... complicated.
  • Authentication by Newspaper: Vic puts a daily newspaper over Alice's groin and takes photos of her, naked, Bound and Gagged. He then sends an entire set of such shots to her father.
  • Banging for Help: Alice occasionally screams for help while gagged, but for the most part, this is futile since the room where she is being kept was soundproofed by the kidnappers.
  • Barefoot Captives: As soon as she is brought to her room and tied up, the first thing they do is take off their shoes, which is done a bit because she is tied to a bed and to give them a handicap to escape. It will also be thanks to the feet that she will be able to escape.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Inverted. Vic is the bigger one in the duo, but he's also the boss and definitely the smart one. It took some extra tricks with the camera and boots, too. In reality, Eddie Marsan is only one centimeter taller than Martin Compston.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Danny has romantic relationships with both Alice and Vic. Alice is the Uptown Girl, Vic is a holdover from Danny's criminal past. But he actually chooses neither, because he's a sociopath who is implied to have zero real feelings for either of them. He kills Vick and leaves Alice to die out of spite when he could have just taken her with him.
  • Bound and Gagged: Alice throughout most of the film.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Done purposefully by Danny on Vic, when the latter is having doubts about their plan.
  • Bury Your Gays: In a sense, since Vic and Danny are dead at the end of the film.
  • Chained to a Bed: Alice, Bound and Gagged to boot. Later on, Danny as well, when Alice tricks him and tries to escape.
  • Character Development: In the beginning, Vic is shown as an amoral ex-convict who is perfectly willing to kill an innocent person if it will benefit him, while Danny is something between his Morality Pet and Reckless Sidekick. In the end, Vic dies as a Noble Demon and Danny is shown as irredeemable, which he was probably from the start.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The bullet and its shell casing. Danny ends up swallowing the casing. Twice. And the bullet hole in the wall is what ultimately tips Vic how much things went sideways when he was out
    • The cell phone is another one. Alice manages to call the police, for what good it does, but now she's left with the phone, which she can't turn off, on her.
  • Consummate Professional: Vic is a hardened, professional criminal. For the majority of the story, his biggest annoyance is Danny's unreliability and how often he has to - often almost literally - whip him into shape. But it's clear right from the opening that he's fully dedicated to his tasks and the plan and takes every step of it dead serious - even if that means kidnapping, harming and even potentially killing a completely innocent person.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Alice might be a kidnapped girl, but she's not an Extreme Doormat. It's entirely to her own wits to get out of being kidnapped.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Played straight with Vic, who is perfectly willing (if reluctant,) to murder an innocent person if it will benefit him, but does what he can to save her when he knows he's about to die anyway. Subverted with Danny, who leaves Alice (whom he supposedly loves) to starve to death while he runs off with the money, even though it later turns out his wound was fatal and so the act of betrayal was pointless.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Played straight by Danny. He betrays both Vic and Alice, killing Vic. Betraying Alice especially is for no reason, just out of spite when he could have gone with her rather than leave her to a slow, protracted death.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Probably subverted by Vic. Yes, he's an amoral ex-convict who is very willing to kill an innocent person just to benefit him, and he does shoot Danny, but he really seems to love him.
  • Desperate Plea for Home: Having been kidnapped and held for ransom, Alice repeatedly pleads to go home - specifically when she's forced to record a message to her father and when Vic catches her after she fires the gun.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Alice doesn't just try to distract Danny, she has sex with him.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After verbal abuse, constant orders, and being shot twice and left for dead by Vic, Danny turns on Vic by killing him and taking the money in the final act.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The first meaning is that Alice Creed is kidnapped. The second meaning is that Alice allows everyone to believe she's dead and drives off to make a new life with the ransom money.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the horror she endures, Alice finally manages to escape, with the ransom money to boot.
  • Eat the Evidence: Happens when Danny is trying to get rid of the shell casing from the shot Alice fired so that Vic doesn't know she got a hold of his gun. This ends up with a Vomit Indiscretion Shot and the item reappearing, forcing Danny to eat it yet again.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: That's when the title card finally shows up on screen, completely changing the meaning of the title.
  • Foreign Remake: The German Netflix film Kidnapping Stella. There are minor differences, including a slight change to the ending. It's filmed and set in Berlin.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Vic. He really loves Danny. He don't want to harm Alice... too much.
  • Hostage Video: The kidnappers make one of these to prove to Alice's father that she is alive and to have her reinforce that they will kill her if her father does not pay. Vic knows what he's doing with this, and re-films it when Alice tries to give information about the kidnappers, and doesn't look scared enough to make their point.
  • I Have a Family: Subverted. Alice attempts to invoke this by telling the kidnappers she has a daughter. Unfortunately for her, they’ve done their research and know she’s lying.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After the kidnapping, when finally winding down and eating a dinner, Danny serves two bottles of beer to it. Vic is not impressed, but goes along with Danny's explanation that he really needs a drink right now and only this single beer.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Vic is master of using this trope. First, he gets information from Alice, when she accidentally calls Danny for help. Later, we got this exchange:
    Vic: Just now... She was acting funny.
    Danny: Why? What did she say?
    Vic: Said? Why would you think she'd say anything? (few lines later) I didn't say she said anything.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Danny, when not supervised, almost never stops playing with it. Let's just say his least stupid act was to stand with his back to uncuffed Alice, who almost instantly hit him with a bucket and take his gun. And he manages to get worse from there. But since his incompetence is balanced by Vic's Consummate Professionalism, the plot never loses tension nor turns into comedy.
    • For the most part Alice is fairly competent, but when she goes to get the keys from Danny's clothes she gets much closer to him than she needed to and stays there quite a while, allowing him to turn the tables on her.
  • Inciting Incident:
    • If Vic stayed overnight and send Danny away, the entire plan would went smooth without any problems.
    • Alice making a call and informing the police about the entire charade. If only she had enough time to find where exactly she is...
    • Later on Vic still managed to pull everything together, secure the ransom, drive Alice away, keep his identity hidden from her father and... Danny shows up, already dying, killing Vic out of spite.
  • Internal Reveal: Audiences learn about various plot-important details long before the characters. The most obvious is Vic only learning about Danny's plot some 40 minutes later than the audience, but there are others.
  • Ironic Echo: Early on, Vic reassures a slightly panicked Danny that everything is all right and that he needs Danny for the plan to succeed. Later on, it's Danny who must calm down Vic and recall to him that they both need each other.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    Danny: What happened to her face?
    Vic: Told you. She was acting funny.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: The film thrives on it, slowly expanding the initial scope of the story.
  • Left for Dead: Vic shoots Danny and leaves him for dead in the middle of a forest after learning about Danny's plan to double-cross him. Unfortunately for Vic, Danny is Not Quite Dead, and is able to make it back to the warehouse in time to shoot and kill Vic.
  • Love Redeems: Subverted. First, after Danny explains Alice that he did all of this because he loves her, she mocks him by saying that when you love someone, you don't kidnap said person. Later on, Danny shows his true colors when he abandons Alice to certain death.
  • Manly Tears: Vic breaks down when he starts to doubt the success of his plan.
  • Minimalism: You meet the entire cast—a grand total of three people—in the first ten minutes or so, and the movie has maybe three or four different sets.
  • Minimalist Cast: Two kidnappers. One girl.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Never was buying and assembling a bed this intense.
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Alice realises too late a gun needs to get the safety removed first.
  • The Peeping Tom: Danny, which in given circumstances is pure Squick, especially before The Reveal.
  • Potty Emergency: The kidnappers give Alice a signal so that they know when she needs to go to the bathroom. They also do not intend to give her any chance to escape while doing so, and make her urinate into a jug while still chained to the bed.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Vic: FUCK that!
  • Prison Rape: It sounds like Vic protected Danny from this while they were in prison, but since they then have their own relationship in which Vic is bullying and domineering, how consensual their relationship was is questionable. Vic does seem to truly love Danny in his own way, but Danny clearly does not reciprocate.
  • Punch a Wall: Happens when Vic realizes Danny intended to double-cross him by killing him and running off with Alice and the money.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Just to make sure that he's well understood, Vic does this when instructing Alice:
    Vic: Any deviation from our instructions, we will kill you. Any piss. We. Will. Kill. YOU!
  • Reckless Sidekick: Danny seems like this in comparison to Vic. At first he reluctantly follows Vic's orders despite Vic having more experience and acting in the best interests of cleanly getting away with the crime. On top of that, he seems to become attracted to the hostage. Later, he’s stupid enough to leave his back turned after untying Alice, allowing her to grab his gun. When it’s revealed that Danny knew Alice before the kidnapping, he unties her in order to have sex with her, allowing her to trick him and handcuff him to the bed while she runs out of the room to call the police.
  • The Reveal: A few notable ones include:
    • Alice knowing Danny beforehand.
    • Danny's plan to double-cross Vic, take the money, and run off with Alice.
    • Danny and Vic are lovers, which is how Danny ensures that he can trust Vic enough to pick up the money alone.
  • The Reveal Prompts Romance: Subverted. When Danny takes off his mask to show Alice who he is, he expects her to become comfortable with him. When he unties Alice to have sex with her, she manages to cuff him to the bed, and says that if he really cared about her, he never would have orchestrated her kidnapping in the first place.
  • Rewatch Bonus: There are few tiny nods here and there that Danny and Vic are a couple before The Reveal, but their actual context is only obvious on rewatch.
  • Rich Bitch: Upon discovering Danny's plan, one of Alice's first questions is how much money they might make from her father. At the end, she is quite willing to drive off with the money and let her father and everyone else think she's dead. Though it's implied Alice doesn't get on with her Dad at least, for whatever reason. He did hand over the ransom money, yes, but that was to stop her being murdered.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Early on, Vic is giving Danny a pep talk of sorts, where he lists various reasons why Danny might have second thoughts. The real reason is because Danny is both sick of Vic and potentially also already plotting on double-crossing him.
  • Saying Too Much: Alice reveals to Vic that she knows Danny's name after she calls for him.
  • Scenery Censor: In the opening, after stripping Alice naked, the camera is placed in such a way, Danny's head is covering her privates.
  • Shameful Strip: Happens to Alice when she is first brought to the room and tied to the bed. Gets worse when she is forced to urinate and defecate in front of them because Vic won't let her be unhandcuffed or unattended for even a moment.
  • Silence Is Golden: The entire preparation for it and the kidnapping itself goes with a single word and few semi-coherent grunts from gagged Alice. There is no actual dialogue until 10 minute mark.
  • A Simple Plan: Played With. The film is far from being a comedy and the bad guys are extremely competent, with a relatively simple, but well-staged plan. A plan that didn't take into account everyone trying to double-cross everyone else.
  • Spoiler Title:
    • Viewers know by the title alone what will happen during the opening.
    • The ending subverts it, because that's the moment when the title screen finally shows and it's given a completely new meaning.
  • The Teaser: If you don't know what the film is about (which is rather hard to do), the opening is one of the best teasers in years. Also, there is no title screen until the last frames, making the ending ambiguous.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill:
    • When Alice got the chance to escape by shooting Danny and risking a fight with Vic, she chose to surrender.
    • Subverted later on, when she's more than willing to kill Danny.
  • Villainous BSoD: Vic suffers one when he learns that Alice knows his name and Danny intended to double-cross him.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Literal example. And done in such a way that it's more than creepy.
  • Villain Protagonist: Vic and Danny simply got more screen time than Alice and half of the fun comes from watching their scheme in action.
  • We Do Not Know Each Other: One-sided at first, then later on by both parties. Danny does not let Alice know he is one of the kidnappers because he believes that Alice would not be able to fake fear if she knew about his plan. Later after the first reveal, Alice and Danny need to make sure that Vic is unaware that they knew each other before the kidnapping in order to double-cross him.
  • Within Arm's Reach: After being double-crossed by Danny in the finale and already dying, Vic reaches for the keys to at least let Alice escape from her bonds. He expires half-way through, leaving her still chained to the grate and the keys on the ground, obviously outside her reach. She struggles for a good few minutes to finally reach them with her toes and slide the keychain closer.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Both men in the film. Apart from the violence seen in her kidnapping, both Danny and Vic end up kicking Alice, choking her, or punching her at different points in the film.