"Captivity: Unrated" DVD Review
November 07, 2007 by James Harvey
Someone should get Elisha Cuthbert's agent on the phone. If this is how she wants to play out her post-24 career, she's not going to last long. Starring in a film that's known for its apparently controversial marketing and not the actual content of the film, the film would eventually tank, that can't be good for her career. But I suppose she wanted to jump on the "torture-porn" bandwagon, which is fine, I suppose, but it's a shame her film had to be so unbelievably lousy and flat-out boring. No intensity, no suspense, just boredom. As enticing as the below synopsis may make the movie sound, it couldn't be further from the truth.
Top cover girl and fashion model Jennifer Tree has it all – beauty, fame, money and power. Everyone wants her… but some more than others. Alone after a charity event, she is drugged and kidnapped. Held captive in a cell, Jennifer is subjected to a series of terrifying, life-threatening tortures that could only be conceived by a twisted, sadistic mind. Now she has to fight for her life and overcome her captor! Called one of the most controversial films of the year, Captivity will leave you terrified and looking over your shoulder wondering if you could be next!
Now, there's something good in here. After a brief prologue (which I'll explain in spoiler-free terms in a moment), the movie starts off with our lead, Jennifer Tree, already isolated from the world. Her pet dog is her only companion, and she has no one else in her life. The movie goes to great lengths to make this abundantly clear in Tree's opening scenes. Once she's abducted, she's thrown into an exaggerated version of her empty world. Of course, there's also physiological and physical torture tossed in for good measure, as well. The physical torture was the centerpiece of the aforementioned advertising campaign. Cuthbert was in a host of provocative positions in assorted torture devices with words like "abduction," "confinement," and "termination" slapped on them. Rather ho-hum to me, but apparently it upset the right people to get it changed. Regardless, the film emphasized the seemingly unending torture devices to exploit Tree's weaknesses. Now, that sounds like it has the trappings for a good thriller, right?
Well, not so.
There's a host of reasons that make this movie a boring experience. Aside from the movie itself being sort of boring, the person (or persons) responsible for Tree's captivity seem to have no motivation whatsoever. The creep stalks her, abducts her in the first ten minutes or so, and then the movie plays out for the remaining 75 minutes or so, including a ridiculous epilogue which just . . . makes no sense. Of course, the epilogue explains the film's little prologue, so I suppose it's needed, but it's more eye-rolling than interesting. While the movie does delve into Tree's character, somewhat superficially, there's nothing said on the captor. Absolutely nothing. Well, I guess that's not totally accurate, as we get to view a very bizarre home video of a boy which implies he was forced into sexual acts for his mother before killing her. Oddly, this home video is shot from multiple angles which doesn't make any sense. Did the boy have a film crew there when he killed his mom? Is it a recreation? Well, it doesn't matter because it's just . . . bad.
And it doesn't help that there's more than a couple laugh-out-loud scenes here. Scenes that should be disturbing or tense end up chuckle-worthy. Much like the aforementioned multi-angle home video and the epilogue/prologue, there's another scene where Tree has to choose between her life of the well-being of her dog. She has a gun to her head and, in her hand, a gun pointed at her caged dog. If she doesn't kill her dog, she herself will die. So, she ends up killing the dog, blowing him to smithereens. Now, this should be traumatic and intense, but, instead, as we see the dog blown to a million pieces, leaving little bits of red gunk scattered throughout the cage, it comes across more as funny than scary. Again, good idea, just poorly executed.
And that pretty much applies to the whole movie. Good idea, but poorly executed. There's a neat idea in here, though, that, since she's famous, she reveals so much of herself through her interviews (her fears, likes and dislikes, etc.), which serve as the grounds for her torture and provides all the info the captors need to psychologically destroy her. That's actually a cool idea. Sadly, the film just can't pull it off. So mix in that, boring and underdeveloped captors, a plot-twist televised way too early in the film, and a dull antagonist, and you have one of the weaker horror films of the year. Whether this film will find a second life on home video, or be able to rise above its controversial marketing remain to be seen, but I'm not as optimistic.
The DVD for the "Unrated" cut of Captivity are, as expected, nothing special. Here we get a smattering of deleted scenes, a "making of" featurette, and a look at the sets work on the film. That's it. Nothing to see here, really.
If you're looking for a good horror flick, don't look here. Capitivty falls short of even the lowest of expectations, and deserves a solid Skip It. I suppose of you're a fan of the torture/horror/thriller genre, you might find this enjoyable, but given how this is a baseless, boring, watered-down version of the Saw film, I'd recommend skipping it and going ahead with some of the more established or truly horrific films of the genre. Capitivty offers nothing new, and what it does offer is boring and, for the most part, uninteresting. However, you may get a laugh out of a few aspects of the movie, so this could just be your cup of tea. But, in the end, Capitivty is a stale entry in an already floundering genre.
Captivity is now available on DVD.