Captivity opens with an unconscious woman getting her head and upper body wrapped in plaster-soaked gauze by an anonymous deviant. She awakens and struggles, totally immobile, as her captor, using surgical tubing and funnels, jacks a load of truck fuel into one of her facial orifices and out the other. She screams her way to a horrendous death. Roll credits. After Dark Films presents yet another thought-provoking cinematic commentary on the progress of human enlightenment.
The admittedly hot Elisha Cuthbert (“24”, The Girl Next Door) is a self-absorbed model, the type who brings her dog into dance clubs and asks the waitress for a dish of water. Elisha’s character doesn’t really have a back story, but immediately you pretty much hate her and want her to die. After all, she’s a vacuous model bringing her dog into a dance club. The credits have barely faded from the screen before Elisha is chloroformed in the crowded club and awakens in a locked room. There’s hope she’ll get a scene like Jennifer Aniston’s in Derailed.
Her captor proceeds to put poor Elisha through the requisite torture porn horror, some psychological, some physical. Elisha is forced to watch a video in which hot oil is poured over a previous victim’s face. It LOOKED like hot oil, but I’m not positive. It might have been hot butter, or maybe acid, but it really did appear as if lipids were involved. In any case, it melts the woman’s face away and Elisha is horrified.
In a later scene, Elisha, strapped to a chair, watches as her captor purees a mixture of eyeballs, ears, and random facial parts and forces an ENTIRE BLENDER FULL of this concoction down her throat with the use of a funnel. Who greenlights this shit?
A good portion of Captivity involves Elisha being allowed to briefly escape, and then being gassed or chloroformed or knocked across the face until she’s unconscious and recaptured. It’s repetitive and purposeless. Emotional detachment rules the first half of Captivity, as Elisha’s torture is depicted in a matter-of-fact manner that is almost disturbing in its throwaway simplicity. The attitude seems to be: we don’t need any lingering shots of rock salt being ground into a leg stump as the kid screams in horror a la the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, let’s just depict some gruesome torture, double-time, and move onto the plot twists. Speaking of which, a sudden perspective change/twist halfway through the movie is awkwardly conveyed and removes many of the horror elements, turning the film into a Kiss the Girls retread for much of its second half. Consider yourself warned.
Captivity is the tale of two movies, neither of them good. The first half is too mean-spirited and apathetic to be fun, and the second half is too predictable to be satisfying. It’s an even bigger disappointment considering the pedigree of writer Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, one of my all-time favorites) and director Roland Joffe (The Mission (?), The Killing Fields (???). Let’s hope and pray this isn’t an indication of what After Dark has in store for us at Horrorfest this year.