A job like this takes a lot of preparation. First Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston) must get the van, then visit the local DIY emporium to stock up on tools and other bits and pieces, then choose the isolated flat that nobody will take much notice of, then the point in the forest where the money can be dropped, then - well, you get the idea. Once the room is prepared with soundproofing on the walls and a bed the only furniture, it is time for the kidnap. It all goes well, with their victim, Alice (Gemma Arterton) putting up a futile struggle and soon she is handcuffed and tied to the bed. Now for the next stage...
The Disappearance of Alice Creed was a low budget British thriller that marked a promising feature debut for its writer and director, J Blakeson, who was graduating from short films, as is often the way. Apart from a couple glimpsed in the background of one shot, there were only three people in this, the two kidnappers and their victim, which lent a pared down and austere mood to a work that prided itself on as being as basic as possible, but that was not to indicate that it was all plain from the outset what would happen over the next ninety minutes. As with any good thriller, there were a number of twists to appreciate.
However, in spite of these various revelations that occur at irregular intervals, once it was over it did seem more straightforward than you had the impression the filmmakers thought they were being. That could be the fact that once the plot was sorted in the latter stages and the conclusion had been reached, it did feel as if there was no other way it could have worked out, but that was not a problem while you were in the process of watching it. Much of this was down to the strength of the performances, as if the presence of an excellent character actor like Marsan had raised his co-stars' game.
To say too much would spoil things, but there was something that stood out about this, and that was the apparent leanings towards pleasing the bondage and domination crowd, as Arterton spends almost all of the film tied up or bound in some way. The fact that she is separated from her clothes a few times also pointed to a not entirely healthy preoccupation, though she was the character in charge for some of the time, as each of the trio took turns at the upper hand. So if you liked to see attractive young ladies all tied up, or tied down for that matter, then Blakeson was only too pleased to offer that to you, even if there were only a couple of moments where he was willing to admit it.
It was possible to overlook these unsavoury overtones and simply enjoy The Disappearance of Alice Creed as a forthright suspense drama, although you might begin to notice a curious emphasis on bodily fluids - not all of them, but there was more than a couple of instances where the subject of urine was raised. Far more often than blood, as you might have expected in a hardhitting Brit thriller, but it really wasn't that gory, preferring to concentrate on the shenanigans involved with a kidnap victim who is desperate to escape, naturally, and a couple of criminals who may inadvertently assist her in spite of their other motives. There were no scenes of the police tracing her, nothing about her millionaire father gathering the money, nothing extraneous at all, and it was to the film's credit that you did not miss these cliché scenes. Small scale, then, but effective for all that. Music by Marc Canham.