As the 1994 single by the sadly non-horror-related band Terrorvision said, ‘Alice What’s The Matter?’ To answer on the titulature character’s behalf, apart from not being able to spell her own name it seems that Alyce is entirely mad.
As mad as a hatter you may say because this horror drama, or dramor as we could all annoying start calling the genre if we fancy it, is a little more than obsessed with ramming its allusions to Lewis Carroll’s trippy kids classic down the viewers throats than it is with actually creating convincing characters or any sense of a storyline sadly.
The film follows Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) and her best friend Carroll Lewis (see what I mean about the references already) on a hedonistic night out. It starts as fun and frolics but takes a terrible turn when Carroll (played by Hatchet’s Tamara Feldman) discovers her boyfriend is messing around behind her back.
Dragging Alyce to a shady dealer, they purchase some illegal party favours and get lost in music, drink and drugs. Eventually they end up back on the roof of Alyce’s apartment where Carroll, precariously balanced on the edge, suddenly falls off and plummets onto the pavement below.
Distraught, confused and extremely upset, the already fragile minded Alyce runs away from her friend, hiding from the police and lying to Carroll’s family. Desperate to escape this new world she returns to the drug dealer Rex (Eddie Rouse from Pandorum) exchanging her body for a fix to take her mind away from the tragedy.
But when Alyce discovers Carroll is still alive she becomes even further removed from reality. Haunted by guilt and visions of her disfigured friend, she consumes ever stronger drugs and her psyche is pushed to breaking point until she snaps, resulting in a random act of unhinged revenge on the world which leaves a bloody trail and a pile of bodies.
The central problem with Alyce is the character of Alyce herself.
After Carroll performs her semi-fatal face plant – which the film never really reveals to us as an accident or an act of malice by Alyce – the mental breakdown of the main character seems completely unrealistic. The viewer spends seemingly every scene wondering why Alyce is acting the way she is (that is if they make it that far through the film.)
Unlikable from the start, the story moves her from shy sycophant in her obvious puppy love for Carroll; to an annoying drug addict prancing around her flat in her pants; to a blank killing machine. Unfortunately, none of these clichéd character traits is ever convincingly justified or explained by the script or events of the film.
Written and directed by Jay Lee the man behind Zombie Strippers! the visual style of Alyce makes things even worse, as it has all the posturing of an art house movie, filmed as it is using stylised cinematography full of out of focus shots, strange sound, abstract editing and other unnecessary effects.
Cheap looking and trying desperately too hard to be arty, this filming coupled with the seemingly improvised acting (including some desperately dull preachy monologues about the state of the world, performed by the stupidly stereotyped pusher) results in an end product that looks and feels like a bad first year student film, with around the same production values and cast.
Added to all this is the immensely annoying and unsubtle Alice in Wonderland references which get very old very quickly – although perhaps someone could craft a drinking game based on doing a shot every time the film make a ham-fisted reference, anyone playing it would probably be wasted enough to enjoy themselves.
20 minutes away from the end, Alyce finally turns from a ‘boring movie about a crazy girl and her life of squalled sex and depressing drugs’ into a generic and gory slasher horror. At this point Alyce mutilates a bunch of characters you already forgot existed for seemingly no other reason than they didn’t know how else to end the movie.
But this is too little too late as most viewers including even Lewis Carroll himself would have switched off this pretentious and pitiful waste of time by then.