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  Publicity Stills of "Captivity"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Roland Joffe
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Pruitt Taylor-Vince, Daniel Gillies
RunTime: 1 hr 25 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: M18 (Violence)
Official Website: www.captivitythemovie.com

Opening Day: 26 July 2007


A fashion model and a chauffeur are kidnapped and held hostage in a small room by a serial killer. While the madman methodically terrorizes them, the victims draw strength from each other….

Movie Review:

You know the drill. Hold a seemingly helpless person captive, and for reasons to be explained, allow perverse acts of violence to be performed on them. The bloodier, the better, and brownie points are earned if the weapons of mass torture are either creatively and elaborately designed, or stem from the use of everyday tools. From the Saw franchise, to hostels with hitch-hiking turistas and the hills starting to have eyes in wolf creek, is the "torture porn" sub genre trying so shamelessly to outdo or remaking themselves, and in doing so, start becoming predictable, and worse, a yawn fest?

If Captivity is any indication of where Torture Porn is heading, then I'd say, it's time to pull the plug. Audiences have come to expect whatever twists and turns that can possibly be mustered, and stay one step ahead of the game. We might wince at whatever sick games the filmmakers can throw at us, but sometimes, enough is enough, especially when the production values are a tad poor, and in trying to extrapolate what is essentially a short film material, have scenes repeat after themselves that it's sleep inducing, and borders on the ridiculous.

Sure, some loose ends might tie down at the end when it's time to show hand, but Captivity does so in a rather clumsy manner, it's almost comical. In fact, there's this major loophole that is so in-your-face, it's blatantly lazy storytelling. There's nothing too intelligent too about the rationale behind the cruel acts, unlike Saw's Jigsaw becoming an iconic cult figure in the genre, with some charisma and a sense of warped moral values, or profiteering in some other movies. Here, it basically boils down to sex, what else, in trying to complete the sex-and-violence circle to lure lusty men in watching Elisha Cuthbert wriggle her way out of bondage.

As the story goes, Cuthbert plays a fashion supermodel Jennifer, who's face is plastered all over the city, a fact that director Roland Joffe never fails to remind you of. Being high profiled, everything she wants you to know about her personal life, gets shared in interviews and the likes, which makes it easy for would be stalkers to play on her worse nightmares. Cut to the chase, she's abducted, and gets imprisoned in a high-tech-low-tech room, from which she tries her best to escape from.

And here's where you'll groan at the repetitive attempt-fail-punishment routine, where she's teased during captivity when she gets recaptured time and again. With the constant fade to blacks, you can almost guess when the lights will turn off for our protagonist, every step of the way. It gets worse as the story gets prolonged with the introduction of throwaway characters, and perhaps one of the worse ways of having the characters release some pressure amid the high tension environment.

Co-written by Larry Cohen, who did manage to show a thing or two about building tension with Phone Booth, this story had nothing except Lame and Laziness written all over it. And I can justify that, because he and co-writer Joseph Tura forgotten all about Fido. Tsk.

Movie Rating:

(This is as low as torture porn can go)

Review by Stefan Shih


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