Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #587
Also known as Alyce Kills
Number of Views: One
Release Date: 24 May, 2013
Sub-Genre: Psychological Horror
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Jay Lee
Producers: Zak Kilberg, Linda L. Miller
Screenplay: Jay Lee
Special Effects: Patrick Magee, Josh Russell
Cinematography: Jay Lee
Score: Billy White Acre
Studios: Social Construct, Scream HQ
Distributors: Bloody Disgusting, Salient Media, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Stars: Jade Dornfeld, Tamara Feldman, James Duval, Eddie Rouse, Larry Cedar, Yorgo Constantine, Megan Gallagher, Rena Owen, Tracey Walter, Bret Roberts, Max E. Williams, Whitney Anderson, Siri Baruc, Jake Thornton, Gus Krieger
Suggested Audio Jukebox
 The Vapors “Turning Japanese”
 David Bowie “Jump They Say”
 Billy White Acre “Perfect Day”
 Korn “Coming Undone”
I imagine every last one of us would like to say that we know the difference between “slightly odd” and “crazy nutbag”. The little six-year-old girl from around the way who gets a kick out of carving worms in half and fashioning them into costume jewelry to sell at her unlicensed yard sale, she’s “slightly odd”. The one kid in gym class who waits until all the other boys have vacated the locker room, before sniffing their discarded jock straps and licking his gums, he’s “slightly odd” also. However, that’s not to say either of them need graduate into a “crazy nutbag” if they just receive the correct parental guidance right? We all have our quirks and I’d have been locked up some time ago if being “slightly odd” was considered a federal crime. Folk do weird shit from time to time and I like to refer to it as channeling the crazy. Better out than in right?
That said, if you’re all grown up and still being considered “slightly odd” by those you come into regular contact with, then it may be time to start sweating things. I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of that timid fellow from mergers and acquisitions who preferred to eat alone in the canteen every lunchtime. There was certainly something “slightly odd” about him but, the moment he went loco and brutalized seven of his co-workers in the stationary cupboard with a sharpened graphite pencil, they soon changed their tune. You have to look for the clues you see. It can be the faintest facial twitch, staring too long at the photocopying machine in the corner, or having a framed photo of Ed Gein on their desk space and kissing it at the commencement of each shift. These are just a few telltale signs to watch out for but there are always those capable of making fools of the lot of us.
Take sassy stealth bomber Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) for example. She’s not weird-looking, doesn’t vaguely smell of urine and antiseptic, and clocks into her mundane job five times a week with minimal fuss and just about average productivity. Granted, she does have a tendency to slip into her own little world on occasion, but she always comes back to us eventually.
She probably just needs to alter her relaxation technique as sprawling out on her bed glued to news reports on the War on Terror night after night can’t be doing her any favors. Perhaps a night on the town with her bestie Carroll (Tamara Feldman) will help keep a lid on that crazy. The girls are inseparable and, aside from a dash of unrequited love and one brief instance of Alyce “borrowing” her friend’s identity, have themselves a rather formidable friendship.
Regrettably, the whole night on the tiles idea may not have been such a good idea after all. It certainly started innocuously enough, with a skinful of booze and the usual rampant girly talk, but things took an unexpected nose-dive when they discovered that Carroll’s boyfriend Vince (James Duval) had been dipping his fingers in some other Pooh’s honey pot and absent-mindedly neglected to inform her. Alyce did what any best friend would do in such distressing times, score them some mind-bending narcotics and suggest they head straight to the nearest rooftop to kick back and trip the night away. In hindsight, perhaps the cocktail of alcohol, drugs, lingering rejection, and wuthering heights wasn’t the smartest move as Carroll learned as she made it from “top of the world” to sidewalk below in record time.
It’s okay though as she’s a fighter that Carroll and it appears she may pull through after all, although Alyce’s concealed passion for her buddy has understandably taken a knock now that good hair days are firmly in Carroll’s slipstream. We’re pretty sure that she feels a modicum of guilt, having maybe ushered her cherished friend over the ledge ever so slightly, but it doesn’t appear that she’s beating herself up over it. Now if only the sound of that life support machine wasn’t so damned aggravating, she’d perk up in no time I’m sure. With all this unwelcome heartache weighing her down, Alyce decides to honor her fallen comrade by living a little for both of them, and scampers off post-haste to score a little more of that good shit.
You can always count on your friendly neighborhood drug dealer to turn that frown upside down and, in Rex (the late Eddie Rouse), she has herself one in a million. While his payment methods are questionable, the company he keeps reasonably pathetic, and his mood as changeable as Bruce Banner on anabolic steroids, he always comes good on the gear front and Alyce is fast sussing out that reality ain’t what it’s cracked up to be so there seems no harm or foul in a dash of mild drug abuse. Unfortunately the rabbit hole winds up being deeper than she thought and wonderland far more all-encompassing than the flyer stated. And so begins the descent.
Jay Lee’s Alyce is a film which I simply didn’t see coming, if I’m honest. Having watched and moderately enjoyed The Slaughter and been less enthused by his follow-up Zombie Strippers, it appeared aiming low was working for him and this deranged little indie gemstone has proved there’s still plenty of time for the young director to bag some significant credibility. Openly drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, to the point where our homegirl’s best friend is named Carroll Lewis, he reveals his very own rabbit hole and punts his leading lady straight in it without so much as a pocket watch for her to sync her menstruation to. She knows the bleed is coming, we’re starting to fall in that the bleed is coming and, when the bleed comes, it positively gushes.
She’s a fascinating specimen as she gives so little away and Lee has no intention of making her motivations clear. The only real clue is her obsession with the looming threat of world war projected onto her wall so she can soak in the angst through her fingertips like a troubled veteran and, other than that, her percolation is decidedly confidential. This results in a final act switch in tone that some may find jarring as her already tenuous grip on reality isn’t so much surrendered as hit for a sixer. However, Dornfeld’s plummet into the depths of madness is so mesmerizing to observe that we’re never far from her side when the shit eventually hits the fan at its uppermost setting.
Furthermore, Rouse is chillingly convincing as Tony Montana’s third cousin twice-removed Rex and secures every deal struck quite brilliantly. He’s the kind of guy you almost want to hang with, but not the type of chap you would wish to fall asleep spooning. The dynamic between this mad hatter and our babe in the wood is fascinating to examine and Dornfeld gives every bit as good as she gets. With deep red now staining her teeth and murder firmly on her mind, you’d be forgiven for expecting a bloodbath and she runs it pretty deep without once elbow checking the temperature. However, in one thoughtfully orchestrated show of unsolicited morality, we are offered a fleeting glance of the little girl lost inside her. You have to take what you can get with a closed book like Alyce.
While lacking the delicate descension of Richard Bates Jr.’s Excision or Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer’s Starry Eyes, Alyce doesn’t perch far shy of their lofty pedestals and is seldom less than intoxicating to knock back. More critically, it shows that Lee has some considerable game, and feels far more in the ballpark of the kind of movies he should be making from this point forth. If you’re looking for a film that you can access on a deep emotional level, then it may leave you feeling somewhat chilly, but one thing is certainly not in question – this chick is sure as shit dumplings a fair few nuts slacker than “slightly odd”.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: I would have paid good money to see SFX duo Patrick Magee and Josh Russell’s hands at the tail-end of the last day of shooting. Alyce sits atop the hydrant until she’s fairly assured there’s a tsunami raging between those silky thighs of hers, then releases the valve and without a solitary care in the world. The final act takes us right down to the bone as she tests out her waste disposal unit to grisly effect. However, it is the utterly nonchalant manner in which she goes about her decidedly messy business that horrifies most. Note to self – if I ever run into Alyce in a motel room and she looks like she’s even remotely tweaking, don’t let that “crazy nutbag” ride bronco.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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