Tuesday, October 14, 2014

30 Days of Nightmares #14: ALYCE KILLS (2011)

The Story: A young woman with a slight case of crazy pushes her best friend off a building, then gradually loses all her inhibitions and moral bearings.

Expectations: One of the distributors is called Bloody Disgusting, so I expected it to be... well... you know.

Reaction: I think I like this film as much for what it's not as for what it is.  Despite oblique references to ALICE IN WONDERLAND (it begins with Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," proceeds to a dive bar where the bartender serves up shots by saying "drink me," and begins to lose its mind at a dark variation on the Mad Hatter's tea party), it's not a cutesy horror movie version of that famous story.  Despite slightly heavy-handed allusions to the chaos that's going on in the larger world (the Iraq War, the Great Recession, etc.), it's not a pretentious rumination on America's "culture of fear."  Despite a first half hour that suggests a rather timid approach to sex, drugs and violence, it's not afraid to get raw.  In fact, let me say right up front: Only those with strong stomachs need apply.

There are some tiresome cliches in this film (the main character even calls them out as such), but there's just enough chemistry between Alyce and her own personal Mad Hatter to keep things rolling until a final act that lives up to the distributor's name.  By that point, Alyce has become a refreshingly bold character... a female Hannibal Lector, completely forthright in her persecution of the free-range rude.  Her actions are so over-the-top brutal and repulsive that I actually found myself wondering why I was so amused by her character.  Here's what I decided: When that other Alice gets stranded in Wonderland, she turns into a big weeping mess.  She's a victim, saved only by the whimsical nature of the Cheshire Cat.  When this Alyce gets stranded in a mad world that makes no sense, she fights back.  And how.  Actually, she's more like the Cheshire Cat by the end of the picture.... utterly and completely mad (as evidenced by the perfect final line).  The dark sense of humor won't appeal to everyone, but it worked for me.

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: If James Duval's death scene doesn't gross you out, not much will.

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