WHERE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM
A DEADLY GAME OF MURDER AND DECEPTION
In the 1980's and 1990's, when cable became the norm but before HD, widescreen televisions, and the proliferation of the Internet, it was very common to see low budget thrillers litter late night programming on several movie networks. Offering lurid thrills and kills (and the occasional shot of nudity), such fare also wormed its way onto VHS for distribution through rental stores.
Captive, soon to be released on DVD via E1 Entertainment, reflects this dated genre to a tee. Produced in 1998, it was made at the tail end of the cycle, but even though it's only a dozen years old, the movie feels like a relic of a lost time. With its full frame aspect ratio, so-so video quality, and a plot more convoluted than a soap opera - not to mention the clunky cell phones and computers - this film has "retro" and "throwback" written all over it.
Captive stars former Baywatch beauty Erika Eleniak as Sam Hoffman, a newlywed bride whose husband is shot dead before their honeymoon. Despite the multiple red herrings in the convoluted plot, it's clear from the start who shot her husband. And if you don't figure it out the first time, don't worry, the scene is replayed in blue-filtered flashback-style every 10 minutes for the rest of the film. So, you can study the victim's dialogue again and again for the obvious clue that it presents.
In any case, after a failed (and very fake-looking) suicide attempt, Sam's brother-in-law encourages her to check into the Dienel Clinic, a psychiatric hospital that her deceased husband contributed a lot of money to. The Dienel Clinic houses a rogues' gallery of crazy people and crazier staff and doctors, leading one to wonder why Sam stays at all. But stay she does, and soon not by choice as the suspicious doctors want her committed in their care. The brother-in-law is suspicious too, as is the grisly detective working the homicide case (played by genre veteran Michael Ironside).
The mystery as to what's going on and who's responsible for what plays out in melodramatic fashion. Perhaps the most unintentionally humorous scene in the film, however, occurs when Sam easily knocks out a morally corrupt intern and then kicks him when he's down for good measure. Talk about coming out of nowhere.
Captive, as I said before, is nearly indistinguishable from others of its genre, but since inexpensively produced fare like this isn't seen much anymore (at least, not with this formula), this release does have a certain novelty to it. It's almost like a curiosity piece from a bygone era. Its resolution may be obvious, but its nostalgic aura is enough to warrant a look, if you're curious.
E1 Entertainment gives Captive a full screen presentation. The 4x3 aspect ratio likely reflects its original television and / or VHS exhibition. Details are, perhaps not surprisingly, very soft, and there are a lot of artifacts present throughout.
The lone audio track is a weak English language Dolby Digital 2.0 affair. Dialogue comes across fine, but you should expect to crank the volume higher than you normally would. No subtitle options appear to be available.
Trailers precede the main menu for Torso, The Haunted Airman, and Elsewhere. They're not made available through the menu system, but a Trailer link does access a trailer for Captive. And that's it for extras.
Even though it's only a dozen years old, the Erika Eleniak vehicle Captive plays like a relic: an exemplar of the quickly made cable thriller popular on late night in the 1980's and 1990's. As such, it does offer some campy moments, but given the disc's lack of extras, this is best seen as a rental for those curious.