Alyce Kills

| August 23, 2013

Bloody Disgusting continues their covert release strategy (previously noted with their release of Blood Runs Cold) with Alyce Kills. Leaving the “Bloody Disgusting” logo off the packaging is a curious decision, as the site is an established brand in the horror community, but perhaps their hope is that saving the name for the opening credits will help lure in casual viewers who may be put off by the phrase. Still, it’s entirely appropriate for Alyce Kills, especially as the film reaches its gruesome conclusion. This seems to be one of the film’s biggest selling points, going by the text and pull quotes on the package, but is a violent third act enough to draw in the horror crowd?

Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) is a quiet, lonely young woman working a soul-crushing job as a corporate accountant. Her best (and only) friend Carroll (Tamara Feldman) still taunts Alyce over what sounds like serious stalker behavior in their shared past. Carroll knows Alyce is obsessed with her, possibly dangerously, but drags her along to buy drugs and see her boyfriend Vince (James Duval) in a club anyway. After Carroll and Vince have a spat over some dirty texts Vince got from another mutual friend named Renee (Whitney Anderson), Carroll and Alyce head back to Alyce’s place to go get more drugs and hang out on the roof of Alyce’s building. Unsurprisingly, this does not end well. The next day, Carroll is in the hospital, miraculously alive after falling from the roof of the building (although seriously injured), and Alyce’s already fragile sanity begins to crack.

Saying much else would ruin the few nasty surprises that the film has, which would rob it of what little enjoyment there is in watching it. The biggest problem with Alyce Kills is that Alyce is not a particularly sympathetic heroine. She mopes around her apartment, goes about her work making the rich richer, and seems to have little in common with Carroll and their supposed shared group of friends. She is obsessed with Carroll, but the audience is never given any real reason why this would be the case: Carroll seems like a steamroller barreling through Alyce’s life with no regard for what Alyce wants or what is best for her, and their conversations make it seem like Carroll had previously severed all contact with Alyce after Alyce stalked her. The peripheral characters are just as alienating, including slimy Vince and his friend Mike (Bret Roberts), who has about four lines in the film, three of which are abusive and misogynist. Even worse is Rex (Eddie Rouse), a cruel drug dealer Alyce inexplicably takes up with after Carroll’s incident.

There are hints throughout that Alyce Kills is supposed to be some sort of dark take on Alice in Wonderland, but aside from the character names not too much is done with the concept. Despite a few fleeting moments of creepy surrealism, the film feels mostly pointless. For the most part, this is just a bunch of awful people treating each other horribly until a bunch of them are dead, and then the movie’s over. The Alyce we see at the end of the film is perhaps a different person than the one at the beginning, but she’s inarguably the worse for it. Watching a character spiral out of control can be compelling even if it’s not exactly fun, but by failing to make Alyce a relatable character in any meaningful way, Alyce Kills just feels like a miserable grind.

Salient Media/The Collective released Alyce Kills on DVD 20 August 2013. Extras include a “Making of” featurette and cast interviews.

About the Author:

Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He is author of "The Unrepentant Cinephile," and a regular contributor to Daily Grindhouse and Film Monthly as well as a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He is co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society and proud owner of 35mm prints of Andy Milligan's "Guru, the Mad Monk." Follow his long-form film writing on Medium:

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