True crime documentaries are seldom made by people close to victims. Aside from what could be considered obvious (filmmaking isn’t point and shoot), the emotional burden sometimes must be too heavy. One of the finest examples is the Dear Zachary doc. A blunt statement powerfully edited to make us ride a roller coaster that left us heartbroken. It was made by people close to the victim. But I don’t believe that had any relation.
With Alice is Still Dead there is a direct connection that feels like a motive relevant enough to give it a watch and go through an emotional journey that sparks a necessary discussion. But it regards an event that’s hard to accept. As an attorney says in the film: Justice is wanted, but there shouldn’t even be a need for it. It’s what we all wish for. Going back in time and preventing the most horrific events from happening. It’s what Alice’s brother transmits with his film.
Alice is Still Dead is made by Edwin P. Stevens. He tells the story of who his sister Alice was. He includes testimonies by his family, Alice’s friends, and people involved with the case. She was shot alongside her boyfriend in a mysterious act that the documentary doesn’t aim to explain. It’s not what you’d expect from a true crime documentary.
In Alice is Still Dead, grief strikes a family and leaves them marked for life. Edwin decides to dedicate his reaction to making a film about who his sister was. We navigate through a period that seems “dark”, but it’s portrayed as a regular turn from what was expected. It doesn’t overshadow the case with suppositions about Alice. She was a 24-year old woman who was murdered by violent people. Is there anything else to say about her? Yes, and it’s told beautifully by those who were close to her.
The film is told from the perspective of a man whose scars can’t be completely healed until justice comes. In a third act defined by a trial, Alice is Still Dead allows us to come full circle with the events. It’s a grounded decision by Stevens who takes his opportunity to shed light on a judicial system that moves conveniently towards those who are smarter. Justice should be blind, but sometimes it’s deviated in favor of those who don’t deserve it.
Most of the film’s running time prepares us for something that arrives. It’s a little bit late but this doesn’t hurt our perception of the film. Some viewers will feel like it’s too edited in favor of adding more testimonies of those who knew Alice.
Nevertheless, it isn’t a film to play the objectivity card. This is a work of art that’s made by a man who needs to cope with a horrible tragedy. Integrally Alice is Still Dead is a beautiful tribute to a woman who didn’t have to die. In the endless discussion of gun violence, criminal acts tend to be forgotten because we’ve somehow accepted that it’s more “normal” for criminals to handle guns. As for me, I think documentaries like these add more balance to the conversation. Sure, guns work for self-defense, but this isn’t the subject of the film. It’s crime and the real victims. The victims that are spoken about in a justice system that allows criminals to have a defense team claiming for their innocence. Alice’s killer (or killers) have been convicted, but this isn’t going to bring Alice back. Justice sometimes is translated towards peace of mind, a delicate feeling you will get in Alice is Still Dead when credits roll.