July 19, 2007


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Captivity (R)
A stupid young model and her purse-sized dog are kidnapped and psychologically tortured (as are we, with boredom and predictability) until Captivity reaches a point at which someone feels you’ve gotten your money’s worth and then it stops.

Jennifer (Elisha Cuthbert) is a hugely famous model who is nonetheless stood up when she goes to a trendy club. Not heeding the warning about never drinking something you didn’t personally witness the bartender making, Jennifer downs one tiny sip of some ’tini concoction and, with a little nudge from a hankie full of chloroform, passes out in the club’s bathroom.

When she wakes up, she finds herself locked in a cement room full of her belongings and all sorts of weird booby-trapped lockers and TVs. When she angrily screams at the faceless person holding her captive, she’s knocked out by some sort of sleeping gas and finds herself tied to a chair from which she watches while, on a nearby monitor, another girl clearly once tied to the very same chair, is given a skin-dissolving shower of acid. Above Jennifer, the shower menacingly starts to drip.

Later, she refuses to drink a sewagey looking vitamin drink and then finds herself forced to drink a far more disturbing kind of energy shake.

After suffering all sorts of mental freakouts, Jennifer discovers she’s not alone. Next to her in a habitat of his own is Gary (Daniel Gilles). Despite their torturer’s half-hearted efforts to stop them from communicating, they soon find a way to connect and offer each other comfort during their ordeals.

Lots of comfort, if you know what I mean. Bow chicka wow wow comfort.

Sadly, “some sexual material” between a tertiary character on 24 and MJ’s also-ran boyfriend from Spider-Man 2 isn’t enough to make up for the countless scenes of pointless gore and even more pointless attempts at acting. For those who aren’t fans of the slasher section of the horror genre but want a better film geek understanding of the whole “torture porn” thing, watch Captivity and then go watch Hostel and Hostel 2. Even a disinterested viewer of the films will be able to see how much better Eli Roth (writer and director of the Hostels) is at using arterial spurts and appendage amputations to create a somewhat engaging story than the makers of this film. There is actual entertainment value, bloodsoaked though it is, in the Hostel movies. It has twists, it has turns, it has a dark, sick but not the less chuckle-inducing sense of humor.

Captivity has an endless supply of stage blood and a hackey exploitative story that seems to have come from the reject pile of a police procedural TV show. The movie gives you gross-outs but no real moments of horror (well, other then the point at which, certain the movie was almost over, I looked at the clock only to discover I had another 25 minutes of this nonsense; I felt some horror then).

The worse crime, though, is in not respecting its audience. I’m not a huge fan of the gore-for-gore’s-sake films but I can’t deny that there’s real craft in some of that and that movies like Roth’s really do offer its fans some entertainment with their entrails. Captivity give its audiences nothing but a red-corn-syrup-covered mess. D

Rated R for strong violence, torture, pervasive terror, grizzly images, language and some sexual material (though none of this is nearly as exciting as it sounds). Directed by Roland Joffe and written by Larry Cohen and Joseph Tura, Captivity is an hour and 38 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by After Dark Films.