Captivity
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // July 13, 2007
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted July 14, 2007
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I never, ever imagined the experience of spending 80 minutes watching Elisha Cuthbert could be so punishing and vile. I guess there must be a first for everything. Jennifer (Elisha Cuthbert) is a top model who has lived her entire life in front of the cameras. When she's kidnapped by a sadist and locked in a cell, Jennifer is subjected to all the horrors she's reveal to the media during interviews. Her only hope for escape is Gary (an atrocious Daniel Gillies), a fellow captive in this dungeon with the brawn to make it out alive.

So, let me get this straight...the man who made "The Killing Fields" and "The Mission" has decided to get his fingers wet in the torture horror film genre? Doesn't the world have enough Eli Roths slithering around to cloud up the multiplexes with their inane stamp of stupidity? The name Roland Joffe appears on the credits, but that might not be the actual end of this story.

If you subscribe to Hollywood rumor, it appears that Joffe's initial cut of "Captivity" (a film shot two years ago) wasn't up to snuff, leaving schlocky production company After Dark Films with quite a pickle on their hands. In the interest of whoring themselves out to the lowest common denominator, After Dark's honcho and general directorial boob Courtney Solomon ("Dungeons & Dragons," "An American Haunting") stepped up to overhaul a majority of the film, turning what I can only assume was a flaccid pass by Joffe to make a socially conscious thriller about media obsession into an exhaustively moronic and amateurish "Saw" rehash.

The overall awfulness of "Captivity" doesn't take long to get to, and you can be certain it never lets up once it begins. In either version of the picture, the central prisoner conflict fails to hold any sustainable moment of tension, using a watery mix of clichés to further a plot about characters no viewer will give a damn about. A self-absorbed model who barely possesses the faculties to stand up straight, much less mastermind an elaborate escape? I say, Mr. Killer, go right ahead and finish her off.

It's not fair to blame Cuthbert for this hokum. Even in the face of her iffy filmography, Cuthbert seems have a confident way about her that better material should one day reveal (I hope). I'm not even going to focus on Joffe, who was kicked off his own movie, but still deserves a spanking for keeping his name attached to this mess. No, it all comes back to Solomon (doesn't it always?), who takes the finished product and turns it into a masterwork of idiocy and breathtaking editorial negligence.

Trying to cram in inexplicable moments of torture and contemptible misogyny to delight the suckers this film manages to con into a theater, Solomon tosses away all sense of pace and continuity. At one point the picture is a confinement psychological study and the next Cuthbert is tied to a chair forced to make the decision to kill either herself or her beloved dog (don't get attached to Spot). Solomon makes no discernible effort to integrate the new footage, allowing for massive continuity holes that open the film up for unintentional laughs and violent eye rolling. Seriously, this an appalling display of filmmaking unprofessionalism. And let's not even go into the fact that the "twist" of the movie could be telegraphed from miles away by even a slumbering moviegoer.

The bottom-feeding attitude of "Captivity" is expected to some extent, since 2007 have been unofficially christened the year that horror died. "Captivity" sums up the current grimy state of the genre accurately with its complete disregard for the audience, lack of cinematic style and conviction, and reliance on mean-spirited manipulation to force the viewer into a reaction. "Captivity" is a buffoonish pile of stitched-together garbage, but compared to other chiller offerings this year, it's just par for the course.



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