Alice and the Vampire Queen Cooks up a Bloody Tale of Redemption

Image courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures

I love vampires. Other than kaiju, they’re my favorite movie monsters of all time, and whenever I hear about a new vampire film, I always need to check it out. I particularly enjoy novel twists on vampire mythology and unique stories we haven’t seen before, so naturally, Alice and the Vampire Queen caught my attention right away. This movie looked like it would check all of those boxes, so I just had to watch it. I requested a screener as soon as I could, and I couldn’t wait to see what bloodsucking thrills the film had in store.

Alice and the Vampire Queen was written and directed by Dan Lantz, and it stars Shelby Hightower, Graham Wolfe, Brenna Carnuccio, Rachel Aspen, Danielle Muehlen, Xavier Michael, Chris James Boylan, and Aaron Dalla Villa. The story focuses on Alice, a renowned chef who’s down on her luck. After serving time for fighting back against her abusive husband, the only restaurants that will hire her are third-rate burger joints, so it seems like her life has hit a dead end. However, that all changes one day when she meets a mysterious stranger who offers to turn her entire world upside down.

The guy’s boss wants to hire Alice to cook for her club, and if she accepts, she’ll make a boatload of money. Alice is understandably a bit hesitant at first, but after passing her audition with flying colors, she decides to take the job. However, there’s a bit of a catch. Alice’s new employer is the queen of a vampire clan, so even though she promises that none of her underlings will lay a finger on her new chef, Alice can’t be entirely sure that these bloodsuckers will stay true to their word.

I’m not going to beat around the bush. Alice and the Vampire Queen is not a good movie. On paper, this sounds like a really cool spin on the typical vampire mythos, but the execution fails to live up to that intriguing premise. Most notably, the acting in this film is pretty weak, so I simply couldn’t buy into these characters. To be fair, Shelby Hightower, the actress who plays Alice, isn’t bad. She’s not great either, but she’s good enough that I didn’t mind her performance.

However, the rest of this cast is tough to watch. They all speak in a very haughty, overdone manner that seems like it’s supposed to add an air of sophistication and authority to their characters, but that schtick doesn’t work at all. Instead, it just comes across as very amateurish, so every time I heard these people talk, I was reminded that I was watching actors reading lines rather than real people going through real experiences.

Alice and the Vampire Queen poster
Image courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures

Those poor performances pretty much kill the first half of Alice and the Vampire Queen, but the movie does get a bit better in the second half. The story starts to take some decent twists and turns, and more importantly, it showcases a bit of thematic depth as well. The film touches on domestic abuse, the question of how far we’re willing to go to make a comfortable life for ourselves, and the idea that our future isn’t determined by our past.

In fact, I’d even say that those themes are the best thing about Alice and the Vampire Queen, but even here, I still have some big issues with the movie. To take just one example, it draws an interesting parallel between the domestic abuse Alice faced from her husband and the constant danger the vampires pose to her, but that connection is sorely underdeveloped.

The story does little more than just mention the intriguing similarity between its main character’s past and present, but after that one moment, it completely leaves the concept behind. It doesn’t even explore the parallel implicitly, so I think this was a huge missed opportunity.

The real thematic heft of this film lies in the idea that we can choose to be better than we’ve been in the past, and for that, I have to give Alice and the Vampire Queen some credit. It conveys the point in a way that’s thoughtful and even a little inspiring, but once again, I can’t quite say I’m entirely on board with it.

I don’t have a problem with the message itself, but I think the movie fumbles the execution in the final few scenes. I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say, just when one of the characters seems like they’re going to finally choose to be better, the story blunts the impact of that decision. And to be frank, it doesn’t entirely make sense. Sure, I get what writer/director Dan Lantz was going for, but I don’t think the logic here holds up. If this was real life, the ending definitely would’ve played out differently, so when the credits began to roll, I was left shaking my head and wondering why certain characters made the choices they did.

That finale was the disappointing cherry on top of this unsatisfying experience, so at the end of the day, I’m sad to report that I wouldn’t recommend Alice and the Vampire Queen. Granted, the film does have a few bright spots, mostly on the thematic level, but on the whole, the poor acting and the various ways it mishandles its themes far outweigh the few things it gets right.

Alice and the Vampire Queen is set to hit VOD on February 13.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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