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A FilmExposed Film Review

Captivity (18)

Captivity (18)

Dir: Roland Joffé, 2007, USA, 84 minutes
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Daniel Gillies, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Laz Alonso, Michael Harney

Poor Elisha Cuthbert seems destined to spend her entire career in a state of impending danger. After making her name 24's bad luck magnet Kim Bauer, Cuthbert now finds herself in a predicament which tops any of the close shaves she suffered in that show. In Captivity Cuthbert plays Jennifer Tree, a model/actress whose face is a permanent fixture on every billboard, television and magazine cover. But one man has decided to take Jennifer out of the spotlight, kidnapping her at a party before locking her away in an elaborately-designed cell from which escape is seemingly impossible. With only fellow prisoner Gary (Gillies) to count on, Jennifer desperately tries to find a way out of this nightmare as her mysterious captor subjects her to a series of increasingly sadistic tortures.

If you're thinking that Captivity sounds a lot like Saw (2004) and HOSTEL (2005), then you're absolutely right. This blatant attempt to capitalise on the recent 'torture porn' phenomenon has been made with a complete lack of originality or imagination; it simply serves up one lame set-piece after another with only a nonsensical and half-heartedly developed storyline offering a connecting thread. Captivity is the product of a most unlikely partnership, with B-movie veteran Larry Cohen providing the trashy screenplay and two-time Oscar nominee Roland Joffé taking on directing duties for the first time in seven years. It's an odd project for Joffé to be associated with and the director doesn't bring any sort of fresh angle to the material, repeatedly resorting to rote and predictable shocks which are too familiar to be effective. Captivity is frequently gory and unpleasant, but it never cuts deep enough to be genuinely scary; a flaw epitomised by the complete lack of tension and claustrophobia generated by film's signature 'sandpit' sequence.

The film fails on a human level too. There is no development of Cuthbert's character before she is snatched, giving us nothing to care about, and she never displays any physical evidence of the trauma she has suffered (it's amazing how glossy her hair and makeup remains after four days of torture) which negates its impact. The leading lady is still the pick of the cast though, with the other performers, particularly Gillies, being stiff and unconvincing in their paper-thin roles.

Captivity has already grabbed some publicity prior to its release with a series of posters that fell afoul of the MPAA, but the film itself is unlikely to make any waves. There's nothing here to excite, intrigue or terrify any viewers who have already seen similar scenarios played out many times before on the big screen. In fact, given the ludicrous nature of the plot twists which pile up in the film's calamitous final third, derisive laughter is the most likely audience reaction to this witless horror movie.


Phil Concannon

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