Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Film Review: Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Alice, Sweet Alice (Review)
United States/1976
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"The focus on character, atmosphere, and mystery made the film much more effective than the average slasher."

When a young girl is murdered before her first communion, Alice (Paula Sheppard), her older sister, becomes the main suspect...

Alice, Sweet Alice is a surprising slasher horror film. This is a film that works better if you know less about it, so I'll keep my description as short as possible. The film follows Alice and her family: her sister, Karen, her mother, Catherine (Linda Miller), and her estranged father, Dominick. When Karen is murdered before her first communion, all of the evidence leads to Alice, a young girl with some violent outbursts. The police and the church work hand-in-hand in trying to solve the mystery while Catherine and Dominick try to save their daughter. But, is she the sweet, misunderstood girl they think she is? It all leads to a surprising climax and a solid ending. There are some things that occur during the second half of the film that lessens the effect of the movie, but it still rebounds at the end.

Alice, Sweet Alice isn't your traditional slasher. Many slashers tend to focus on a group of characters trying to survive against a violent psychopath. This film focuses on the investigation – the mystery – as well as a violent psychopath. The focus on character sets it apart from movies like Friday the 13th, Madman, and The House on Sorority Row. It's almost like a drama mixed with horror, which makes it more effective. Now, that also means it's on the slower side in terms of pacing. There are some moments that drag and it feels a little too long for its own good. Still, most of the film kept me engaged. The murders aren't over-the-top, but they are brutal. The tension is also great. This is a film that resonates thanks to its subject-matter and its execution.

The acting was also great. There are some actors who overact during a few scenes, creating laughable melodramatic moments, but most of the cast is strong. Linda Miller and Paula Sheppard are great leading ladies. The film was shot well, too. The music was a little repetitive, but it did have an old, eerie vibe to it. The film was written by Rosemary Ritvo and Alfred Sole; Sole also served as the director. Aside from some issues with the pacing, the writing and direction were great. The focus on character, atmosphere, and mystery made the film much more effective than the average slasher. Its subject, although possibly controversial, was also compelling.

Overall, Alice, Sweet Alice is a great horror film. There are a few things I didn't love about the second half of the film and there were some pacing issues, but it is otherwise very effective and entertaining. It is better than most slashers from the era. If you love horror, this should be on your list to watch if you haven't watched it already.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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