Directed by: Nikki S. Colt & JosephDewey
Written by: #NikkiSColt
A twisted spin on the classic story Alice in Wonderland, Nikki S. Colt’s nightmarish version entitled Alice’s Misfortunes in Underland & Through The Looking Glass sees a vulnerable Alice (played with aplomb by Grace Link) confuse dream and reality where characters in her life take on frightening appearances.
Told using an eloquent overvoice and striking visuals, this short film has a surrealist appeal and charm. Colt and co-Director Joseph Dewey strike a nice balance between intrigue and discomfort for the audience, allowing them moments of calm in Alice’s journey before plunging them back into the harrowing quagmire. As the bizarre, eccentric, and even shocking sequences coalesce for the viewer, a #comingofage narrative forms that still contains the fantasy trappings of a fairy tale.
Link does brilliantly on screen with her movement. The uncertainty of her character is conveyed with tentative physicality and trepidation. As she is swarmed by the ensemble of ghoulish characters in the movie, Alice’s sense of self worth becomes the focal point and how life’s evil seems to be drawn to her vulnerability and isolation. The disturbed visual sequences of other characters moving perhaps representing her own lack of confidence and control of her own surroundings.
There is a rather large issue with Alice’s Misfortunes in Underland & Through the Looking Glass, and that is the almost unbearable score. Jarring and annoying, so many of the scenes are drowned out by a cacophony of noise and quirky instrumentation. The tone of the music seemed to cheapen the atmosphere of the movie, tingeing it with the sound of amateur theatre. Had a less obtrusive score been used, the imagery and cinematography would have been more effective. Smaller issues with the movie include poor lighting, an over-reliance on certain camera gimmickry (the aforementioned characters jitting across the screen), and a lack of coherence in the plot.
The abstract nature of the Colt and Dewey’s film engenders a degree of scope when it comes to classic cinematic structure and delivery. It’s okay, for example, for the characters to not be fully explained or for a myriad locations. In fact, it is the mystery of Alice’s Misfortunes in Underland & Through the Looking Glass that offer the movie’s biggest appeal. It is through this window of chaos and uncontrolled descent that we associate Alice’s journey into adulthood. Having survived on the streets and eating out of bins (a rather fortunate Orange had been left whole), her lot is set to worsen with the onset of other “people” whose motives and flaws pose her biggest threat.
Intriguing and intelligent storytelling coupled with some stark imagery make this a worthwhile short. Shed the score and polish some of the edges and this could have been a remarkable piece.