Alice is an upcoming revenge thriller film starring Keke Palmer as an enslaved woman who escapes and finds out she’s transported to the year 1973. This is the shocking true story it’s inspired by. 

2022 is already shaping up to be the year of impeccable film and, off the back of its success at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Alice has just released a new trailer – and it’s safe to say it’s firmly grabbed our attention.

The Keke Palmer-led film may seem like it follows an intricately crafted and ludicrous plotline but actually, it’s inspired by very real-life events.

The trailer opens up with a wide-angle view of a colonial-looking house, eerie undertones reminiscent of Get Out and Jonny Lee Miller referring to the Black people sitting patiently as “domestic livestock”.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the movie is set before the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 but actually, that’s part of the intrigue of this trailer. Because actually, we quickly realise that, beyond the trees of the plantation Alice (Keke Palmer) has been kept in, the year is 1973.  

Keke Palmer will star as Alice in the upcoming movie.

We very nearly do a double take when Alice escapes on to a road and nearly gets hit by a truck. A modern invention we weren’t quite ready to see but an instant snap back to reality, if ever there was one.

It’s time travel at its most hopeful, something Palmer recently commented on in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She admitted that she feels “very proud of the past, of my ancestors, what they did, and how I’m here – the fact we’re still standing and that we’re not extinct as a culture and as a people”.

The ominous (and rather empowering) trailer reveals that Alice can’t write and moves around almost like a ghost. But we also see her explore her Black identity through the art, music and styles that political activist Frank (Common) introduces her to. It’s a story of discovery, pride and consciousness as much as it is a thriller about enslavement, race and oppression.

While we can’t wait to watch the movie for ourself once it’s released on 18 March, Alice does highlight important true events that, until now, have often been left untold. 

What are the true events that inspired the film Alice?

Alice is inspired by the very real-life history of Black Americans who remained enslaved after the Emancipation Proclamation. One major example of 20th century enslaved people is the case of Mae Louise Walls Miller, an enslaved woman who wasn’t granted freedom until 1963.

In a 2006 ABC News investigation, Miller revealed that her childhood was full of “picking cotton, pulling corn, picking peas, picking butter beans, picking string beans, digging potatoes. Whatever it was, that’s what you did for no money at all.” 

The proclamation of 1863 should have seen an end to slavery. Instead, American Justice Department records reveal a more sinister tale of prosecutions throughout the 20th century against white people who continued to keep Black people in “involuntary servitude”.  

The official film poster for Alice, starring Keke Palmer in the titular role.

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The lives of Miller and her family were filled with coercion, threats, exploitation and a complete masquerading of the outside modern world in which they lived.

Speaking to ABC News, Miller said: “They beat us. They didn’t feed us. We had to go drink water out of the creek. We ate like hogs.”

When asked about the possibility of running away, she admitted that she didn’t because, “What could you run to?

“We thought everybody was in the same predicament. We didn’t know everybody wasn’t living the same life that we were living. We thought this was just for the black folks.” 

Common and Keke Palmer star as Frank and Alice in the upcoming thriller.

Miller and her family didn’t know what was happening around them as they had no TV or access to the outside world – something that’s also explored throughout Alice. Miller’s father tried to flee the property, but was caught by other landowners who returned him to the farm where he was brutally beaten in front of his family.

One evening, though, Miller ran into the woods and hid in the bushes until another family found her, took her in and rescued the rest of Miller’s family later that night.

Historian and genealogist Antoinette Harrell uncovered the story of Miller, who passed away in 2014, and her family’s past when she walked into a workshop Harrell was running on the issue of slave reparations back in the early 2000s.

As well as Miller’s story, Harrell has unearthed multiple other shocking stories of enslaved people in America’s southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida. 

Keke Palmer and Jonny Lee Miller star as Alice and Paul Bennet in the new thriller film.

Alice may be a work of fiction but its proximity to reality will be the scariest thing about it, we feel.

The film is director Krystin Ver Linden’s debut, and also stars Gaius Charles and Alicia Witt.

Alice will be available to watch in UK cinemas nationwide on 18 March. 

Image: Roadside Attractions

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