“The movie they don’t want you to see, the movie so intense it was punished, the most controversial horror movie of all time…!” – “Captivity” Trailer
Notoriety and controversy have so far been the only aspects in the marketing machine for “Captivity,” ensuring it possibly mild cash return at the box-office. When a film can get under the skin of a few lazy parents over an innocuous message board that provokes “offense” over a basically ignored ad campaign, it’s almost a surefire bet that the film itself will fail to muster up anything of value beyond said ballyhoo.
That’s the case with “Captivity.” It’s yet another title in the utterly exhausting torture genre that died in the clutches of the terrible “Wolf Creek,” and it has basically mimicked everything that garnered “Saw” success, along with gambling on and likely over – estimating Elisha Cuthbert’s appeal. Receiving a bad reception from critics, it was re-shot in some areas to garner it a more bankable horror oriented pigeonhole, and yet still received a poor reception.
Reminding us of the joys of censorship, and the lengths studios will go through to promote a film, “Captivity” is an embarrassing mix of “Saw” and “Se7en,” it’s yet another torture film with a woman in peril that involves a masked madman in the shadows, and a young woman that must be forced to look at herself in a cheesy morality theme, all the while avoiding certain death under his traps.
What we do receive in the terms of gore and carnage is goofy bordering on pure absurdity. For ninety minutes, we have to sit and watch this young girl take a brutal beating, and for what is seemingly all for nothing, in the end. “Captivity” is that film in a horror fad where you know they’ve all run out of ideas, so the writers stretch as much as possible to bring us disturbing sequences that are really just idiotic. The body part smoothie is a scene smacking of desperation that really has to be witnessed.
Cuthbert plays vain and self-involved magazine model Jennifer whose life revolves around her career and her dog. One night at a party, she’s drugged, kidnapped, and awakes “Oldboy” style, in a chamber where she’s closed off from the rest of the world. After painfully repetitious sequences of attempted escape, screaming, capture, torture, attempted escape, screaming, capture, and torture, she comes across a fellow prisoner who attempts escape, screams a lot, is capture, and somehow dodges the torture.
Either way, Joffe’s film suffers from many flaws, one of which is utter monotony with a story, or lack thereof that defies logic, or any sense of belief. Cuthbert’s performance is mediocre, while her character simply has no likable qualities nor does she give us a reason to root for her at any moment. She’s focused on herself, and only herself, while the poor man’s Jigsaw performs torture routines that would make the actual Jigsaw lower his head in shame and sick Amanda on him.
All the while, Cuthbert teases us yet again by getting almost, but not quite nude, and continues an endless routine of suffering that never lends credence to the possibility that this woman may have some brains. You figure after the fifth time of attempting escape, failing, and being punished, you might want to… I don’t know, stop? Perhaps play the games? Perhaps learn your lesson after being threatened with an acid shower? I’m just saying.
After the pre-requisite torture, “Captivity” drags itself on after the one hour mark long after its run out of steam, and yet continues on with utterly outlandish plot devices including snoopy cops, the identity of our madman given away much too soon, and a limp climax that almost seems derived from a different film altogether. It makes you appreciate films like “Alone with Her,” doesn’t it?
The weak hype “Captivity” has mustered is about the only thing that has kept it in the spotlight, for Joffe’s film is a terrible rehash of better torture genre exploitation, with none of the charm. It feels desperate from beginning to end, and is only offensive in that it presumes to be better than we think.
If “Hostel: Part II” was the death cry of the torture fad as we’ve all heard, then “Captivity” is that rusty nail hammered into the coffin, with a few more films set to seal its grave, and hopefully bring in a wave of better films and possibly a better fad.
Tis a sad fate when controversy is the most entertaining and interesting thing about a horror movie.