Twelve strangers wake up in a concrete room with no idea of how or why they have come to be there, save a series of phone calls informing them they have all been infected with a virus and only one will survive. They then undergo a series of token challenges – which might have evoked a more bloodthirsty Big Brother if the script had bothered to serve up actual contests and we had seen any evidence of participation; Dead Set this ain’t – as over the course of 24 hours the twelve are whittled down one by one.
The most glaring issue with Captive is that its dialogue was recorded entirely on location with remote microphones, such that much of what is said is almost entirely inaudible either by being too faint or too muffled by the echoing acoustics, but in fact this is a blessing given that the film doesn’t bother with having its dozen participants begin investigating the reason for their captivity until 22 hours have passed and all but three of them are dead.
Even more shocking is the utterly spurious motivation behind the “game”, an eleventh-hour revelation that makes a complete nonsense not only of the choice of contestants but also of the onscreen text updates that accompany each of their deaths. It’s as if someone took a neat idea for a film, Battle Royale for instance, and decided to mount their own production without understanding the original’s success, and with such appallingly scant means as to make the idea of economy an impossible aspiration. It is entirely possible to shoot a decent movie with no money whatsoever, but it doesn’t happen here.
What Captive really needed was a strong script and a director with a good sense of his requirements. With neither of these, the cast are despite their best efforts all at sea, and very soon the film begins to drift, even with a running time of 75 minutes. Nobody does or says anything remotely authentic, elements are thrown at the plot for no apparent reason, and what ought to have been a prevailing mystery is completely ignored until it’s time for the resolution to roll around. Even the soundtrack chooses inopportune moments to swell and ebb, as if it’s just as muddled as the rest of the production.
When a film begins with two men in gas masks and protective clothing but who haven’t bothered including gloves, and subsequently includes digital crash zooms into inconsequential dialogue exchanges, the lack of attention to detail and affinity for the material are all too apparent. The best thing you can say about Captive is that it makes a great advertisement for other, better-realised films.
Extras: Trailer / Anchor (unrelated short film)
CAPTIVE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: STEPHEN PATRICK KENNY / SCREENPLAY: STEPHEN PATRICK KENNY / STARRING: MARK HUTCHINSON, MARTIN NOLAN, ROB CAPEL, BERNIE KAVANAGH, TOM WARD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW