October 30, 2007

DVD Pick of the Week: Captivity

Here we are, the day before Halloween. If you check the sales fliers from this past weekend (past few weeks, actually) you will find that a number of horror releases have hit sales racks. Most notably the entries in After Dark's Films to Die For series and the Masters of Horror releases. However, if you peruse the new release lists, there are very few new horror releases this week. Most of the new horror titles were spent in the past weeks leading up to the big day. That said, when looking over the noteworthy new releases, I decided that the week's pick would have to be a horror film. Guess what? I found a worthy one. One that most of you will have had a very different reaction than I.

This week's pick is none other than Captivity. It sparked controversy earlier this year when a series of graphic billboards and posters popped up around Los Angeles. Producer Courtney Solomon claimed that it was a mistake, but I seriously have my doubts regarding that. It seemed to be the perfect way to drum up some mainstream press for this small film in the hopes of a box office spike. Well, it backfired and the box office prospects withered and died before it even hit the big screen. Then there was the problem of a work print that made the rounds. It was not well received, and from what I hear, it differed greatly from the final product. This was particularly noticeable in the gore department. Still, I liked this film and look forward to adding it to my collection.

I enjoyed laughing at the ridiculous script, I enjoyed squirming at the torture sequences, I enjoyed the ridiculously shallow tale being spun. The fact that I found myself enjoying this beyond all reason is testament to my being a fan of horror movies; it can be hard to find good ones, so I will occasionally find myself drawn into a bad one. Perhaps it was the more twisted elements that kept me captivated, because it sure wasn't the characters holding my attention.

The movie opens as we watch the unidentified killer cover a victim in plaster of Paris, poor something down a tube through his nose, while blood drains from his other nostril. It ends ends with the killer taking a sledgehammer to the plaster encased head. Now, that should give you a clear idea of whether or not this is going to be a movie for you. Undoubtedly, many of you will not go anywhere near it, while others of you may smile, thinking this could be just what you're looking for. Well, it isn't quite as bad for the former, and not nearly enough for the latter.

As I sat there watching the film, the words morally bankrupt and misogynistic came to mind. Not that I believe the filmmakers are either, nor do I think those who enjoy this are either. It is, after all, a movie, an exercise in creativity that happens to skew towards the darker side of life. If you watch the film, I am pretty sure the same words will come to your mind. That is until we get a finale that brings in an element of female revenge flicks like I Spit on Your Grave, but just a touch. The way the people are treated in this film is rather repulsive, even without caring about these paper thin characterizations, it was still pretty cruel the way people are dealt with.

Following the gruesome opening, we are introduced to Jennifer (Elisha Cuthbert), a shallow model with implied fame and fortune, and a not implied stalker problem. Our introduction comes partially through our stalker's POV through a camcorder — he likes to film his victims for awhile before making his move. In short order, he drugs her and takes her back to his lair. Next is a sequence of twisted little mind games in an attempt to break her down, including watching a tape of a prior victim getting an acid bath, while hers is prepared. There are a number of these sequences, and some are truly cringe-inducing.

The problems arise pretty much whenever anyone opens their mouths, as no one really says anything important, or in any type of naturalistic way. Then Elisha's Jennifer discovers her co-captive, and a rather quick and goofy romance ensues. The situation is so unbelievable as to be laughable. By the time the killer is revealed, we already have a good idea of where it's heading.

Captivity is the kind of movie that defies reason, there's no reason to like it. We don't get to know any of these characters, the killer, the killer's reasons, Jennifer, or her background. It is just a downright mean-spirited film. Fortunately, all we need is a mean movie once in awhile. At least we got to spend some time with the cat and mouse torture of one victim rather than the multitudes as in the other films, but a little depth would have been nice.

It was directed by Roland Joffe whose credits include the Oscar-winning films The Killing Fields and The Mission, while it was co-written by Larry Cohen, who's had a career in B-movies including the It's Alive trilogy, the Maniac Cop trilogy, and more recently the Hollywood thrillers Phone Booth and Cellular. Seeing those titles, it would not be far-fetched to think this would be better. Still it was trash, but entertaining trash.

Extras are slim, including: Deleted Scenes, 'Making of Captivity' Featurette, and 'On the Set Look' Featurette. It features an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

Also out this week:
  • Spider-Man 3. This was a serious letdown in the face of the first two, but it still has some good action, good effects, and it is still Spidey! I will likely add it to my collection.
  • Scrubs: The Complete Sixth Season. One of the bets sitcoms on television. I love this show, combining comedy and genuine heart, not to mention some wild creativity and first rate actors.
  • Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition. Never watched this when it was on, I don't even remember when it was on. Time to check this out.
  • Looney Tunes: Golden Collection - Volume Five. This is an absolute must. Warner has done a fabulous job with these collections.
  • The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. One: 1934-1936. Finally, remastered chronological collections from these masters of slapstick!
  • Day Watch. Sequel to Night Watch. I've been looking forward to this Russian film ever since learning that Night Watch was the first of a trilogy. The final is called Dusk Watch.
  • Angel: Complete Series Collector's Set. Here is a set to compete with the currently in production series Moonlight. This Buffy spin-off was excellent and should have been on for another season or two.
  • License to Wed. Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, and John Krasinski. Sounds like a good cast, but the end result is a mess. Rental at most for the curious.
  • El Cantante. The Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony biopic took a fast route to DVD. I missed it, but a friend says that it was very good. May be worth checking out.
  • Family Guy: Freakin' Party Pack. May be worth it for a fan who hasn't bought any yet. This contains the five released volumes of the show so far in one box.
  • Talk to Me. I am surprised that this did not get a wider release. I have a copy in hand and look forward to checking it out. Don Cheadle is a superb actor and Chiwetel Ejiofor continues to impress.
  • All That Remains: Live. I have one CD from these guys and it is quite good. I should get around to picking up some more.
  • Basket Case 2. Never saw the first, but I am sure that it and this provide some bizarre gooey fun.
  • Slayer: Unholy Alliance Live. How can you go wrong with Slayer, Lamb of God, Mastodon, Children of Bodom, and Thine Eyes Bleed?
  • Stagefright. This is one Michele Soavi directed horror film I have not seen. The Church is really good and Cemetery Man is brilliant. I hope this is at least good.
  • A Blade in the Dark. Lamberto Bava's killer flick that I heard of long ago but have not witnessed. Maybe now I will with this re-issue.
  • The Myth. A new Jackie Chan film. How can I go wrong? Well, so long as it is better than The Medallion.

So, what's going in your queue?


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