by Lisa Slade
There are two good things about Captivity . The first is that it's only 85 minutes long, which is considerably shorter than other recent cinematic disasters like Saw III . The second is that it costs only $8.25 to see, which may seem like a lot at first, but when compared with other mistakes you've probably madeâ"that timeshare that seemed like such a good idea, maybe, or that first semester of college you can hardly rememberâ"it's actually quite cheap.
Sadly, those are the only redeeming qualities of this film. Horror films are usually appealing because they're either so delightfully frightening that they leave you quivering and sleepless with fear or because they're terrible, but unintentionally hilarious.
Captivity is neither scary nor hilarious. Instead it's mostly a yawn, consisting of a bunch of flashed sequences of torture that should appall us, but never do. It's even devoid of the semi-amusing â“jumpâ” moments that many films of this nature incorporate. You know, the kind where you leap into the air as someone jumps out of a closet, or jump into your neighbor's lap when a bunch of bats fly out of the dark attic. Captivity lacks the most basic shock values that we've come to expect from mediocre horror flicks.
The plot is both predictable and overwrought. We're first introduced to Jennifer (played by Elisha Cuthbert), a pretty, young model/actress, while she is readying herself for a party that's sure to be full of socialites and Hollywood A-listers. She's talking to her dog, saying, â“You're the only one who loves me.â” The monologue is apparently meant to convey her utter isolation, but instead conveys her status as a member of the idiot club. Who says things like that? Are we supposed to pity her or dislike her? It's never clear, and as a result we end up just not caring about her. Maybe she'll live, maybe she won't; we just don't want to look at her anymore.
Jennifer attends the party, with her dog, but sits by herself, doesn't talk to anyone and eventually ends up with a tranquilizer in her appletini. When she awakens, she finds she's been placed in a chamber containing a bunch of relics from her previous life. â“He's been in my apartment!â” she screeches in between throwing perfume bottles off the dresser and pulling the mattress off the bed in an inexplicable display of rage. Yes, genius, he's obviously been in your apartment. That should be the least of her worries, but you have to feel for poor Jennifer. The pretty train may have picked her up, but the brain bus obviously passed her by.
Just after she gets over the shock that this sick individual has been inside her apartment, she's sedated again. She awakens to find herself strapped into a chair that strongly resembles something your dentist might have owned in 1972. Then, she's tortured by a faceless, hulking figure. The torture consists of her being forced to funnel ground-up body parts, and other nearlyâ"we said nearly â"laughable scenes. If she tries to escape, she's punished. If she complies, she's punished. There seems to be no way out, even after she encounters a handsome man (played by Daniel Gillies) in the same predicament.
Thenâ"brace yourselfâ"there's a twist. Yeah, we didn't expect it either.
Sometimes terrible plots work, if the actors and actresses involved are brilliant. But, unfortunately for Captivity, and for previously-respected director Roland Joffe, who once directed movies that didn't suck like The Mission and The Killing Fields , no one in this film is brilliant. Elisha Cuthbert's wails and whines are never believable. Daniel Gillies' most notable achievement before this train wreck was dating Rachel Leigh Cook, and it shows. His character is a caricature, overly angry and cunning, and, of course, oh-so-dashing.
There is apparently a genre known as â“torture-porn,â” and this film belongs to it. What does that say about our state as a society that we have an entire series of films devoted to torturing? You have to think if future cultures study us, they'll be baffled and nauseated. It's an even worse statement about this film that it is torture-porn, and most critics say it's a terrible and depraved illustration of it.
Overall, it's a perfect example of what is wrong with Hollywood right now. Captivity borrows from other, better, films, splices the resulting ideas together and expects a surprise twist and few hot bodies to be the glue that holds it all together. It's nothing we haven't seen before, and nothing we need to see again. It's a sequel, just like all the others we've been seeing all summer long, even if it doesn't have a two, three or 15 at the end of its name.
And though it's only 85 minutes long, it's not worth your time. After all, that's 85 minutes of your life that you'll never get back.
Movie Guru Rating:
Most of the time, the girl next door is the cute, innocent neighbor with a crush that goes unrequited until the end of the movie. Then the guy realizes he actually loves her, not the skanky, older, popular girl. In The Girl Next Door , Danielle, played by Elisha Cuthbert, is the skanky older girl, only she's still pretty cool.
Matthew (Emile Hirsch) is a nerdy high school senior trying to get a scholarship to Georgetown, which will be a springboard to a career in the White House. But Matt is restless because he realizes that he hasn't really done anything fun in his four years. That all changes when Danielle moves in next door. In fact, the very first time he sees her, she's getting naked right in front of the window. No drapes or blinds, of course.
He spends the next couple weeks getting to know the spontaneous blonde and actually having some fun for a change. But just when everything seems to be perfect, Matt finds out from his friend, who seems to have a serious addiction to hardcore erotica, that his new sweetheart is a real live porn star.
Predictably, he ruins their relationship by trying to bang her in a sleazy motel and finds himself trapped in a web of scantily clad deceit. Cue the crazy adventures, including but not limited to stealing a golden penis, pounding ecstasy, getting pounded, making a great speech while high, nearly ruining the life of a Cambodian genius, and producing the best sex video ever made at a high school prom. All for a porn star he fell in love with.
And why not? In The Girl Next Door , Cuthbert is smokin' hot, fun, and a lot cooler that she is in 24 . All he's risking is a little time in juvy. And possibly wrecking his future, but who cares about that at age 17?
As another installation in the high-school drama genre, The Girl Next Door delivers. Though it's a long way from Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club , it's basically a rat pack movie on steroids.
Is it art? Not even close. Great cinema? Nope. Not nearly. Entertaining, a little funny, and very steamy? You bet. â"Eric Connelly
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