26th Aug2014

‘The Captive’ DVD Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Joseph Morgan, Matt Ryan, William Troughton | Written by Luke Massey, Benjamin Read | Directed by Luke Massey


Royal Marine A.J Budd (Joseph Morgan – Vampire Diaries, Immortals) awakes in a mysterious house. Every day he is forced to fight for his life against grotesque inhuman opponents and no matter how much he tries, he cannot escape. Trapped alone in an unchanging prison of unbreakable routines, he must kill every day or die himself. As days stretch into years, the isolation and unceasing violence threaten his very soul. The Captive is a gripping, brutal, psychological film with a supernatural edge that charts one man’s fight to preserve his humanity and sanity over years of terrible imprisonment.

The Captive doesn’t offer you explanations. You wake up with A.J Budd in the house and you are left as much in the proverbial (and sometimes literal) dark as he is. I waded into this movie expecting a gore fest of epic proportions as Budd battled thousands of monsters everyday to the edge of his sanity but was surprisingly mistaken. There are moments of gore and blood-spurting grossness but these definitely take more of a backseat to the torturous rut that Budd is caught in and his never ending pursuit to escape it.

The first thing that really struck me about The Captive was the lack of music in the background. It is there occasionally, but is used in an extremely limited way; usually just a simple piano piece which emulates Budd’s more hopeful moments; where escape seems obtainable. This way, the silence throughout the rest of the film really emphasises the monotony and insanity which picks at Budd throughout and in a way helps the viewer to almost feel it as well. Of course, this is a dangerous move. To really play up the psychological aspects of the film, the viewer does have to empathise with Budd. So to show the monotony of his captivity, the film in itself has to be a little monotonous as well.

To be fair to the film, I only found a few moments where I glanced at my watch and Joseph Morgan does extremely well as Budd, portraying a range of emotions on the scale of sane to insane. But this isn’t a horror film of jump scares and terrifying beasts though. I only found myself jumping in fear (and spilling a perfectly good cup of tea) once really. This film is more of a slow burn. Will he ever escape? Where is he? Why is he there? Just as the character keeps questioning, you will be questioning alongside which is definitely one of the stronger points of the film. However, the film doesn’t feel like the ‘brutal fight to preserve his humanity’ which is put across in a synopsis. There were fights, many of them brutal, but I feel the limits of Budd’s sanity could have been pushed a lot further than they were and the result was an ending which was not as powerful as it could have been.

The Captive is out now from 101 Films.


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