12th Dec2018

‘Captured’ Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Lizze Gordon, Gabrielle Romanello, Megan Medellin, Charlie Ian, Cody Bruno, Evan Sloan, Cody Renee Cameron, Sam Cain, Lola Kelly | Written by Lizze Gordon | Directed by Joe Homokay

captured-poster

“Smells like exploitation”

What happens when camp B-Movie shtick meets obviously incorrect Millennial generation doings? The premise of #Captured is simple – hilariously voiced zealot (think Phil from Modern Family turning it up to 11) becomes slasher to punish the wicked doings of the cool, sexy kids – plus their chubby, older friend – who are streaming their under-age sex and drugs parties on the internet. For shame! At the same time a girl new to the school finds herself dragged into the dirty bathwater of seedy online sex cams and slasher nonsense.

Within the first ten minutes we see that all the characters in the film (save “Ashley”) are impossibly horrible, unlikable and unrelatable human beings. Most horror films have us empathize with the victims, some flip the convention and make you empathise with the antagonist, but this film has found its own path- we don’t empathise with, or indeed care about, anyone or anything that is happening. It is a bold move. I hope it does not catch on.

A good deal of the film is viewed through a combination of POV, drone control app windows, live streaming chat windows or fake Facetime group chats. The ‘concept’ of the film often takes precedence over good (read competent) film making and the concept itself is quite rubbish.

This brings me to the first question. Who is this film for? The subject matter plus POV film style are unlikely to appeal to older viewers while the lazy and slightly incorrect explanation of “internet things” and how all that works is likely to be off-putting for the kind of millennial I am guessing this film is aimed at. Having said that it is difficult to tell who this film is supposed to be for, but I can tell you here and now it is not for me.

#Captured is bad. The campy acting and cheesy production nearly tip it into “so bad it’s good” territory but sadly it teeters on the brink without crashing down, my biggest frustration with this film…. We don’t care about any of the characters, we have little to no relationship with the murderer (mission from God is the laziest and probably least interesting explanations for someone to murder people). We must listen to the killer rambling on later about God and “healthy trees” and it smacks of lazy filmmaking.

The “cool, rich kids” seem like an odd assortment of random people who happened to have a free weekend when they decided to film, and the quality of the performances would back this theory up. The acting is almost universally bad here, that kind of bad acting where you start to wonder if they have ever interacted with another human before, let alone manage any kind of nuanced interaction (e.g. “talking”).

Given the low bar I felt Evan Sloan and Lizzie Gordon (as Ashley) were the better performers. Spoilers – keep an eye out for the death scene of Evan Sloan’s character, it’s unintentionally hilarious.

The pacing is also problematic with a variety of slow scenes that add nothing to the film (how many times do we get POV shots of the killer making himself a coffee?) very occasionally punctuated by silly and inelegant violence. I felt like we were leading up to a twist at the end, I think there was supposed to be one, but it didn’t feel very “twisty” to me.

Troublingly #Captured arguably presents itself as a punishment for this modern kind of transactional exploitation that is so easy to find on the internet these days and yet is happy to put front and centre the kind of lurid sexual displays that the film is supposed to be mocking and railing against. It is called “having your cake and eating it” however this film somehow manages to bake the cake to a blackened char, while the centre remains a raw goop. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I hope I don’t have to go back for seconds.

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