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Hal MacDermot [Celluloid 07.29.09] movie review comedy drama vampires

Year: 2009
Directors: Park Bench
Writers: Park Bench
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Hal MacDermot
Rating: 6.7 out of 10

If you thought the corporations were sucking your blood, you were right. Canadian director Park Bench’s debut feature The Death of Alice Blue is the satirical tale of a shy young girl who takes a job as a low level creative executive in the Raven advertising agency, only to find out the place is run by vampires. Think dark humor and blood sucking executives and a plot that eventually somewhat loses itself. The Raven corporate office has a brilliantly executed grungy retro 80s look and is stocked with wonderful, old fashioned computer monitors and filthy corridors and bathrooms. It’s a Wristcutters (2006) feel, a world where everything is second hand, broken and rubbish, but with gothic touches, like the blood red offices of the executives. The lead is played by the beautiful Alex Appel, who I reckon looks like Beatrice Dalle.

Alice Blue starts off her first day at work playing the 1980s video tennis game, Pong, one the first video game ever invented. Now that’s retro. The office neon lighting is dark and greenish, all the cubical fittings are dirty and Alice is watched by a old surveillance camera with a blinking red light. The direction is more theatrical than realist. She quickly meets the office inhabitants, including the über bitch boss Sherry who is a bit like Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada, and the wonderfully mean pair of blonds, Karen (Veronika Hurnik) and Sharon (Megan Fahlenbock). All the upper executives act like toe rags, except one chap, Stephen, who is kind to Alice. Alex Appel, who’s done a fair bit of TV including the supernaturalish 1-800 Missing, gives such a great performance.

Raven advertising is marketing a red wine called Netherwine, and Alice tries to pitch creative ways to sell it, but no one except for Stephen takes her seriously. Shunned by most of the executives, she becomes involved with a resistance movement of lower level human employees, who want to, well I’m not entirely sure what they want, but anyway it’s against the higher ups. Alice’s involvement in the resistance takes her to a Goth club full of vampires, rather like the place that Sookie in True Blood drops into. It also has her breaking into the Raven office building after hours, to discover the secret behind the company and Netherwine.

The plot is weaker than the visuals. Things mostly make sense for the first two thirds, when Alice is just a regular employee, but as she becomes something more than your average worker, it becomes clunky and random. There’s a confusing attempt to explore her relationship with her mysterious and absent father. It seems he used to be high up in the company and was perhaps a vampire. On a technical level, the fight scenes were terrible. I get they were supposed to be stylized, but they felt amateurish. Despite its faults I enjoyed this film. Great retro visuals, a vampire corporation, dark humor and Alex Appel. There’s a cool guitar rock soundtrack too, with tracks from Toronto based indie rock band The Outfit and Michael Kulas (ex of James). The Death of Alice Blue confirms all my paranoid delusions about business executives.

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Ryan B (12 years ago) Reply

Sounds like it's worth checking out! Thanks Hal!


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

This sounds like a decent film, but Park Bench? C'mon, Park Bench? Is that actually a name? ;)


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

This movie is a joke. The lead actress (Alex Appel) is a joke. She can't act to save her life. What is with her constant smirk? The writing is ridiculous. The whole thing looked thrown together without a real care for actual film making. I could have done better in my garage. And apparently this movie took 6 years to make -6 years and this is the best they could do?? shocking. It's a shame because Kristen Holden-Reid is great in Tudors. The people behind this film should definitely not quit their day jobs, if they even have those.


LACASTING (12 years ago) Reply

Saw this film at MOMA in New York, I loved it, especially the beautiful Alex Appel who by the way is absolutely stunning in real life.

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