The Haunting of Alice D is a paranormal thriller centering on the revenge of the titular character, a young girl forced into sex slavery who tragically died in the late 1890s. Her ghost still haunts the enormous brothel-turned-family-home, which is still in the possession of the ancestors of her captors, the Davenports.
In the present day, a descendant of Alice D’s pimp decides to hold a party in the treasured mansion and with hookers, drugs, and alcohol in tow, aims to create an unforgettable experience for all involved. However, the party creates a perfect storm that brings Alice D back from the dead to enact bloody revenge on the unsuspecting party guests.
The Haunting of Alice D does not represent a typical take on these types of paranormal thrillers, to which we’ve become accustomed, but unfortunately that is to its detriment. A movie with cheesy lines, grotesque deaths, and delicious revenge is what one expects, but it’s not what takes place–well, at least, not in the first hour (of this sparse, eighty-minute film).
The film moves back and forth between the past and the present to reveal the despicable history of the Davenport house, including incredibly cringe-worthy depictions of rape, sex trafficking, and murder. These scenes are actually the scariest, and most impressive, parts of the movie because they are so horrifyingly realistic. Usually these types of plot points fall short because the rapists spout corny one-liners while the camera shots verge on being pornographic.
Also, there are some audio issues that cause voices to fade in and out, so dialogue is lost to the clanking of stiletto heels on hardwood floors. There are odd instances where swallowing throats and loud kissing sounds take precedent, while other potential artistic opportunities, which could take the movie to another level, are lost. The argument could be made that the gross audio serves to outline man’s primal need for sex by any means necessary (the reason they are killed by Alice). But this depth was lost in the inconsistency of the sound mixing.
The Haunting of Alice D has so much potential, especially after opening scenes that help audiences really rally behind the titular character, and cheer for the deaths of the ridiculously unlikeable partygoers in the real world. Unfortunately, the story is weak and it’s hard not to yearn for some blood and gore. By the time the revenge scenes transpire, it is too little too late and doesn’t bring the satisfaction or impact that it should.
The Haunting of Alice D was directed by Jessica Sonneborn, who also takes a starring role as Natasha, one of the prostitutes in the movie. This combined with the fact that The Haunting of Alice D is Sonneborn’s first film could possibly explain the lack of focus throughout the film and ultimately may not have been the best choice for her as a filmmaker.
The present day characters aren’t particularly memorable since they are mostly outshined by the creepy, misogynistic party host that likes to hog the spotlight with assertions of power and machismo. However, the actors in the various flashback sequences seem to have done their research and bring authenticity and drama to their roles.
The actual writing and premise of The Haunting of Alice D is really not that bad, but in the present day parts of the film, the audio issues were so distracting that it was hard to focus on anything else. It is hard to get invested in a movie when the viewer can’t even hear what the characters are saying, over unnecessary sounds that could have been easily faded into the background.
For any dedicated horror fan, this film is not a total waste of time because intense, 1890s rape revenge scenes pique the interest and make way for more promising movies from this director, who does show at least some initiative. Nonetheless, The Haunting of Alice D is not for the casual watcher looking for some cheap thrills, or for the seasoned viewer who demands a more coherent audio and visual experience.
The Haunting of Alice D is available on DVD and Digital Video on May 3rd 2016
WICKED RATING: [usr 4]
Director(s): Jessica Sonneborn
Writer(s): Jessica Sonneborn
Stars: Juan Riedinger, Aaron Massey, Megan Hensley
Studio/ Production Co: RLJ Entertainment
Length: 79 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Paranormal, Thriller