May 21, 2013 (VOD)
Jade Dornfeld as Alyce
Tamara Feldman as Carroll
Eddie Rouse as Rex
Alyce is a struggling worker bee at a hedge fund management company. With a skuzzy apartment and an ogre of a landlord pestering her about her rent, Alyce decides to cut loose and hit the town with her friend Carroll. During their outing, Alyce encounters many acquaintances that she has alienated. In fact the only one who seems to tolerate her presence for any length of time, beyond the unwary stranger is Carroll. After some drinking, the conversation turns to ways to kill their enemies and culminates in an almost sexual encounter between the two – during which we discover that Alyce once had an unhealthy attachment to Carroll. Yet, the fun is just beginning. After getting high on some primo X and wandering the alleys at the wee hours of the morning, they have the brilliant idea of going to the roof of Alyce’s building, where after an encounter with a bat, Alyce accidently pushes her friend and Carroll falls to her death… At least that’s what Alyce believes until a cop shows up the next day and informs her that Carroll sustained severe injuries, but still lives. Blaming herself, Alyce goes through a masochistic cycle that starts with drugs and ends in murder.
Alyce Kills begins as a chick flick about sisterhood, transforms into a latter day Crime and Punishment, but ultimately ends on a high note of psycho-bitch horror: What begins as a girl’s night of fun and frivolity ends in tragedy that leaves Alyce punishing herself with drugs and prostitution (to acquire the drugs), but evolves into a desperate need to grasp control of life – by killing all those who threaten it.
Fans who enjoy good character development and gritty storylines will appreciate this addition. Combining both those qualities with some ghostly hallucinations and twisted murders – some of which rival the finest moments in slasher films – creates a unique film that doesn’t fit comfortably into any subgenre. (Filmmaker Jay Lee even sneaks in some horror comedy. Indeed, a gore-iffically hilarious scene depicts Alyce attempting to dispose of a body by some rather creative means.) Rather, Alyce Kills crosses the boundaries of many and ultimately only partially fits into the horror genre. Yet there can be no doubt that the action builds to a crescendo of horror that is truly worthy and much anticipated.
With emphasis on the last two words, we find the major flaw in the film: Much of Alyce’s downward spiral proceeds at an agonizingly slow pace (even by the standards of slow movies) which almost completely annihilates any tension that has been garnered after her friend dies and will leave you checking your watch throughout. The build-up is very believable and ultimately a realistic progression from simply that chick ain’t right to the more twisted and divorced from reality –psycho-killer-bitch. Yet, most of us go to movies to be entertained – not appraise the reality of the situation. Director Jay Lee seems to have forgotten (or doesn’t care) that entertainment value is prior to realism. Hence, by the time we get to the truly cool horror, which does not shy away from the gore (not in the slightest), no one would blame you for falling asleep. I normally don’t advise fast-forwarding, but you can probably skip over some of the drug dealer’s lectures.
On the technical side: The acting is hit and miss, but the lead – Jade Dornfeld – plays a believable Alyce and sells her descent into madness well. Eddie Rouse also astutely plays an – albeit cliché – philosophizing drug dealer. Aside from dragging in places the story is more or less solid with few holes (but there are some). The directing follows the same pattern. Yet, overall the film is solidly executed and Jay Lee succeeds in delivering a believable journey into madness.
Bottom Line: A relatively unique flick with some great horror, but BEWARE: A reservoir of patience is required before you get there.
Note: Some critics have foolishly suggested that this one be considered a latter day Alice and Wonderland or even Through the Looking Glass. Although some scenes may find loose parallels with the Lewis Carroll classics, ultimately any comparison between the two demonstrates a superficial understanding of both. If Jay Lee intended his gritty production to be considered as such (Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit plays during the opening sequence and Alyce’s friend is even named ‘Carroll’), he ultimately fails to recognize his work’s own uniqueness. Alice and Wonderland may be interpreted as a metaphor for descent into madness (among many other possibilities), but Lee has aptly portrayed the actual descent AND CONSEQUENCES free of colorful characters and interesting adventures along the way.