Coming across as the bastard child of the Saw and Hostel franchises, Captivity is less than perfect. I would have thought audiences were getting a little sick of torture horror flicks. The Saw series is still going strong, but at least that has (an admittedly ridiculous) plot going for it.

With Captivity, the torture scenes seem tacked on. I get the feeling the film could have been a little more cerebral, but that the gore factor was seen as a necessity.Captivity With no explanation, Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert) is kidnapped and held captive in a windowless room. We’ve already seen what happened to the perpetrator’s last victim in the opening scene, and it wasn’t pretty, so we’re fairly certain that bad (or worse) things are gonna be in store for Jennifer…

Cuthbert is fine, though her character has no depth other than a rather banal phobia. The appearance of a second captive shifts the narrative nicely, but on the whole the film’s pretty predictable. It takes way too long for other pieces of the puzzle to make their appearance, and it would have been better to have some clues earlier on to maintain interest. Also, it’s about time screenwriters learnt that less is more – Jennifer’s ‘cell’ is too complicated to be believable.

If the film had focussed more on the effect captivity has on the human condition and less on the torture devices, we might have had a better film. As it stands, we know nothing too bad can happen to Jennifer for quite some time since she’s the main character – unless they were to pull a narrative dogleg à la Psycho, and this film is way too conservative for that. The performances are decent, and the direction strong. (Irrelevant aside: apparently Roland Joffé is one of the uncredited directors of Super Mario Bros.)

Once we get to hear the perpetrator’s backstory it gets a little more interesting, even if this revelation involves an impossibly filmed flashback. (Or maybe it’s done that way on purpose to enable a sequel). Captivity isn’t terrible, and certainly feels less grim than Hostel. Those who enjoy shrinking in horror as flesh gets mutilated might get a kick out of it.

Rating: 2.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 10th May 2008
Hoopla Factor: 2.5 stars

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