Psychological “thrillers” are a hard sell. They can either go for a straight forward route, or try to give viewers a more stylized approach, running the risk of putting the focus too much on being “artsy”, and not enough on character development. Unfortunately for ALYCE KILLS, that is exactly what happens.
ALYCE KILLS revolves around, well…Alyce (Jade Dornfeld), a young woman who works a job that she’s treated badly at, and lives alone. After a night of some heavy partying, Alyce, along with her best friend Carroll (Tamara Feldman, HATCHET), decides to try ecstasy and get crazy for the night. While very high, the two best friends head to the top of the building that Alyce lives in, and in a drug induced haze, Alyce accidentally pushes Carroll off of the ledge, seemingly killing her.
Where this could serve as a starting point to really tell a story of regret and losing one’s mind, where the film goes instead, is into the plateau of being a tad bit too frenetic. We never get much character development in this one, and instead of feeling sorry for Alyce (or Carroll for getting pushed), we never find out who these characters really are, which makes it almost impossible to care, when Alyce begins to unravel. Was she jealous of Carroll? (A few sentences hinting at that are briefly mentioned early on in the film, but never gets fleshed out enough for viewers to form an opinion). There are more than a few unanswered questions in the film, and unfortunately, it never rises above being really messy.
While the unanswered questions and even the overuse of quite a few jump-cuts are enough to frustrate the viewer, where the film really loses it comes from the addition of Rex, a drug dealer who takes advantage of Alyce’s lack of a grip on herself. Making Alyce have sex with him in exchange for drugs, he then attempts to wax philosophical afterwards, along with his two coked out friends. The film is full of characters like Rex, people who would be irritating WITH character development, so having the lack there of, only makes it a little more frustrating. When Alyce really loses it and decided to pay back everyone in the film who messed with her (or didnt), you find yourself watching the clock, instead of really caring.
It’s unfortunate, because everyone involved in the film is obviously talented, and you can recognize director Jay Lee (ZOMBIE STRIPPERS) trying to put forth a really stylized thriller of a film, it just doesn’t work this time around. While it has its share of kills, a little bit of substance, and a couple enjoyable moments scattered within the film, by the credits, you’re still wondering who the people you’ve been watching for 90 minutes.
ALYCE KILLS comes out in select theaters May 24, and on VOD May 21 via The Collective/Bloody Disgusting Selects.