One man gathers their ATM cards and forces Jaime to drive him to a nearby bank to retrieve as much money as possible. The other two are left to guard the women until they return, but little goes as planned: unexpected visitors drop by the house, hostages try to escape and one of the captors goes bat-nuts haywire. It's enough to make a hard-working home invader reconsider his career path.
The End Result
Director Miguel Ángel Vivas's style is immersive, utilizing a real-time format and unedited one-shot scenes that each extend for five or 10 minutes straight without a cut (two scenes sometimes playing simultaneously in split-screen). Although The Silent House received much more notoriety for its one-shot format, Kidnapped uses the gimmick more effectively to draw the audience in and put them in the shoes of the victims -- for better or worse.
For the viewer, this immersion translates into one long nerve ending of a movie. Some scenes deliver heart-pounding energy, while others drag on for an all-too-real realistic eternity of uninterrupted, incoherent sniveling and sobbing. It's an intriguing experiment that, as the violence and brutality build to a jarring climax, achieves what I can only assume is its intended reaction: repulsion. Kidnapped's effectiveness at creating such a visceral response is admirable, but it's also not entertaining.
Kidnapped shares some commonality with home invasion films Funny Games and The Strangers, but it lacks the avant-garde purposefulness of the former and the scary thrills of the latter. It feels like nihilism for the sake of nihilism, eschewing narrative artistry for an anarchistic thumbing of the nose at conventional storytelling. And yet, despite all of this, I'm glad I saw it. Its impact is palpable, which is more than you can say about most films. Script issues aside, it's done well enough that I would recommend it to genre fans with a taste for the morbid side of human nature.
- Acting: C (Emotionally draining performances that at times devolve into overacting.)
- Direction: B (Inventive hyper-realistic approach.)
- Script: D+ (Unique but unpleasant and lacking in narrative purpose.)
- Gore/Effects: B.(Brutal, shocking gore.)
- Overall: C+ (Intriguing, polarizing, conflicting, affecting.)
Kidnapped is directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: June 17, 2011 (June 15 on demand).