(TBC) Running time: 90 minutes
Director: Jay Lee
Writer: Jay Lee
Starring: Jade Dornfeld, Tamara Feldman, Eddie Rouse, James Duval
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
There is one great big question looming over my thoughts of new horror film Alyce, did I enjoy it so much based on the film itself, or is it simply down to actress Jade Dornfeld being so addictively gorgeous as Alyce? I’d like to think both, but my initial thoughts after watching this film about one girls spiral into madness, was that I may have just watched one of the finest horror films of the year and on reflection, I still think that. Jay Lee directs with ease this stunning portrayal of a girl on the edge, and tipped right over it by a series of tragic events. Alyce is a hidden gem, and one film that’s guaranteed to achieve cult status once the distributors get round to actually releasing the damned thing!
Alyce is a quiet girl, she works hard in a dead end job inputting data where her female boss is jealous of her stunning looks and doesn’t much like her. A troubled past is touched on by her best friend Carroll (Feldman) as she reminds of the time she called her ‘Single White Female’, but now she seems OK but you can tell there is something brewing. Alyce and Carroll decide to go for a night out, get dressed up (hurrah!!) and head to a nightclub where they witness Carroll’s boyfriend Vince with another girl. The friends almost get into a fight, and a sense of not wanting to be pushed around anymore is written all over Alyce’s face as the pair walk away. They go back to Alyce’s flat and decide to drown their sorrows, and joking around Carroll suggests some girl on girl action to get back at Vince. Just as we get to it, a nervous Alyce runs to the toilet and throws up blood, damn damn!! The pair then decide to party on, get some ecstasy and enjoy the night, which they do until Carroll suggest heading up to the roof of the block of flats. Playing around, a tragic accident causes Alyce to trip and push Carroll off the roof. Fearing she is dead, Alyce runs back to her flat, shuts the door and panics as the sirens wail outside. In the morning the police arrive for routine questioning, knock on her door and she stalls them while thinking up what to say, and it works as she plays innocent, claiming she let her friend on the roof as she thought nothing of it. When the police officer announces Carroll is still alive but unable to speak due to her smashed up face, the film takes a dark turn as Alyce spirals into madness, fearing Carroll will eventually tell the truth.
One third of the film out of the way, it is time to get dark as our poor girl begins seeing ghosts of Carroll everywhere she turns, racked with guilt she does not know how to stop it and so decides that drugs and booze is her only way out. She heads back to the dealer who sold them the drugs on that tragic night, but the dealer wants something other than money. Eddie Rouse plays the vile drug dealer who has a lot to say about the world and it’s affairs, he is a horrible, vile creature surrounded by a long haired thug who can’t wait to see Alyce get her clothes off, and a black fella who provides some of the film’s best comedy moments as he sleeps through the entire film. As she craves more harder drugs, so the sexual favours increase and Alyce starts to change. Some of these scenes of her at home wasted on drugs are incredible powerful as she quite literally loses her mind. She even loses days as she turns up for work not realising she slept through her previous day and missed work all together. In these scenes of madness, director Lee shows off some incredible skill, with inventive camera angles and close ups, and Dornfeld showing off terrific skill as an actress not afraid to go all the way. Nothing here feels forced, it all feels as if she really is losing her sanity, and you will actually start to really care for the poor girl. The scenes with the drug dealers are at times a little hard to take in, and the whole second third of the film is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and mental breakdowns that will leave you feeling a little dazed and very worn out. It is powerful stuff, really great filmmaking and as I have said before, it is Dornfeld’s impeccable acting abilities and stunning good looks that keep you captivated.
The third and final act see’s the whole thing go right over the edge, and director Lee cleverly counter balances the shocking acts with some well timed comedy. I won’t spoil it for you, but it is a great finish to an already great film. I was absolutely transfixed watching this: Dornfeld is an actress that is very hard to take your eyes off, not just because of her good looks and sexy outfits, but her acting skill as she changes throughout the film. She plays the role of a quiet, shy girl who literally turns into a monster with superb natural ability and even in a later scene where she displays probably one of the most pleasing masturbation scenes you will have seen in years, she still delivers and does not look out of her comfort zone. It was like she was born to play this role. Incredibly, she manages to not only turn into a crazed psycho, but she perfectly delivers moments of comedy as if she hadn’t even been asked to do it. A scene which perfectly shows this off is when she attempts to dispose of a dead body, she chops off one arm and then tries to slice it up with a kitchen knife, then she tries smashing it with a meat hammer or rolling pin, and eventually decides to slice off the skin bit by bit before trying to dispose of the bones down the sink. All that effort, and then the look on her face as she turns to look at how much of the body is still left is priceless.
Alyce delivers everything, and I mean everything. You want drugs, sex, violence, ghosts, madness, comedy; it is all here, glorified and perfect. This is one of the most fun and intense horrors I have seen all year and not a moment is wasted. Jay Lee has proven himself here to be one Hell of a director, and certainly a name to look out for. His latest film House With a Thousand Eyes is in post-production right now, so keep an eye out for that one. Actress Jade Dornfeld has also cemented herself as a serious acting talent, and a damn fine looking one at that. For someone who has only appeared in four films prior to this (with two more on the way) to be able to lead a film as tough as this, and do it so well, is quite brilliant. Alyce will captivate you to the point you just can’t bare to look away, this is great stuff, really truly great stuff and one of the finest horror films I have seen all year.