The big thing that gave Captivity the anticipation leading up to its release was a less than studio endorsed billboard showing its star Elisha Cuthbert (24) being tortured before getting killed. The main thing about the film was that Cuthbert had sunk so far downhill after renouncing her dad Jack Bauer. But holy crap, Roland Joffe directed this film! For those who don’t know, Joffe is a two time Oscar nominated director for The Killing Fields and The Mission. But since then, his success arc seemed to fall off the table completely since the mid ‘80s, with contributions like Super Mario Brothers and The Scarlet Letter, even directing an episode of an MTV sitcom. So I guess it’s only natural that he come into the torture horror genre much too late in the game with Captivity.
Written by Larry Cohen (Cellular) and Joseph Tura, Cuthbert plays Jennifer Tree, a successful model who finds herself captured by an unknown assailant, with no foreseeable hope for freedom. While in captivity (get it?), she meets Gary (Daniel Gillies, Spider-Man 2), and together they both try and find a way out of their hell. I wish I could give you more without diving into a spoiler or two, but that’s as far as I can get.
As it turns out, the sad thing about this film is that the best part about it was the poster that hyped it weeks in advance. In an age where Hostel and Saw have pretty much paved the way for similar knock-offs, not only does Captivity not really bring anything new to the table, but seems to rip off a lot of things, starting from the opening credits, with seem to be lifted from Eli Roth altogether. Then you have the torture of Cuthbert, not much of which is done, and in a film where she’s forced to eat blended human organs, she’s forced to disrobe and wear “prettier” clothing, and we don’t get to see it? A confusing choice to say the least. Plus the torture really just seems to be for torture’s sake, without any sort of point or meaning to it, but when Jennifer finds Gary, things start to devolve into a series of completely unconvincing plot twists, not to mention some stupid character motivations that confound and annoy, and even at less than ninety minutes, this movie is too long and really just doesn’t do anything compared to the films of Takashi Miike or even Roth. Joffe is out of his element and he needs to get back to some challenging work soon.
You have your choice of a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS ES soundtrack, and both of which are pretty top shelf. The subwoofer activity is a lot more prevalent than expected, and the surrounds are somewhat active also, with dialogue staying in the center channel for most of the film, so if there’s a bright spot for the film or the disc, this is it.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation was probably designed to convey the gritty and almost homemade nature of the picture, but at times the film just looked fuzzy and out of focus quite a bit. I had to play a high def disc or two just to make sure I wasn’t having problems with my player or anything afterwards, but in terms of video quality, blah.
There are four sections of bonus material, and one of them is the film’s trailer. There’s a lack of commentary for the film, which sure, I would have dreaded, but with Joffe would have been interesting. There’s a ten minute making of look at the film with interviews from the cast and crew as they talk about the story and what drew them to it, and oddly enough they talk about the benefits of conducting the principal photography in Russia. It’s really more of the usual when it comes to this thing. Following that is a fifteen minute look at how a couple of the scenes came together, which were shot with some sort of second unit crew in California. It basically amounts to a camera being on set as the shots were set up and the rehearsals conducted. After that, you’ve got six deleted scenes, including two alternate endings, which run about fifteen minutes in total length and make you wonder if this turd was so bad, what could have been left out?
If you’ve seen other recent horror films, then there’s nothing in Captivity that should shock or amaze you, in fact, in a gross and bad genre filled with amateurish filmmakers, to see a name like Roland Joffe throw his hat into the ring and fail so miserably is about the only thing worth mentioning about this disc, that and the fact that it sounds pretty damn good. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.