PrintE-mail Written by Peter Turner


There are some films that you really only need to see once. So harrowing and depressing are these films that a second viewing would be very much like running head first into one of Jigsaw’s traps for another taste of pain and misery. Long after the likes of Irreversible, Requiem for a Dream and Inside have messed with our collective melons comes Kidnapped, a home invasion thriller that starts out nasty, before descending into downright vicious.

A simple story of one family moving into their brand new lush home soon turns to bloodshed and slaughter as three balaclava-clad men burst into their lives to make some quick money. Jaime, Marta and daughter Isa are just getting to grips with their luxurious new pad when the hooded burglars smash their way into the house and proceed to demand money. Quickly cast aside are tensions between mother and daughter, suddenly replaced by a gut-churning night of survival as one of the armed men takes Jaime out to a cash point to collect as much money from the family’s cards as they can. But as things go from bad to worse, it becomes clear these robbers are not going to stop at just taking their money.

After an extraordinary opening scene involving a man with a bloodied bag over his head stumbling through the woods and then having a very near miss with a speeding car, it swiftly becomes clear that director Miguel Ángel Vivas likes a long take. The camera glides and prowls around this film like it is attached to the shoulders of characters, giving a more immersive feeling than any number of found footage horror films could ever attempt to muster. Kidnapped is actually comprised of very few shots for a feature, and the camera sticks to these characters like glue making for some uncomfortable viewing.

To make things even more unbearably tense, Vivas employs split screens for key scenes where action comes to a head. It is riveting, edge of the seat stuff, and despite the lack of characterisation or complex plot, Kidnapped is one hell of a visceral thrill ride. Relentlessly grim, brutal and with little in the way of catharsis, it is a difficult watch at times with some shockingly graphic violence. Let’s just say that once some sexual violence rears its ugly head, the gloves really come off!

While Kidnapped may add little to the home invasion thriller that hasn’t already been seen in the likes of Straw Dogs or Panic Room, its style is exceptional and Vivas doesn’t holding back as he heads towards the vicious climax. With a camera that rarely cuts, and often sits static on the faces of victims in despair, the performances are necessarily outstanding. Manuela Vellés and Ana Wagener are particularly magnetic; their faces fraught with fear and their screams an almost constant soundtrack of terror.

There are plenty of familiar beats with unexpected intrusions adding to the body count and tensions’ arising between the kidnappers, but what makes Kidnapped so special isn’t its story or characterisation but its style and ultra violence. Considering there is little time to get to know these characters, it is the impressive camerawork, editing and committed performances that make this film so disturbing. Its unrelenting torment is the kind of thing you will probably only wish to witness once, but Kidnapped is definitely a film that locks you in and refuses to let you go.

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