So close. So very, very close.
With Capture Kill Release, debut feature director (also writer and producer) Nick McAnulty has produced a found footage-style film that is both get-under-your-skin creepy and horrifically engaging as an outwardly normal married couple decide to kill a stranger just to see what it’s like.
The premise is simply that, but the killing itself is not what Capture Kill Release is about. This is a story of a relationship crumbling through one party’s single minded obsession with taking a stranger’s life, and the logistics involved in satisfying that craving. Fundamentally, it is Jennifer’s (Jennifer Fraser) story, and of the increasingly prevalent bloodlust within her. Fraser’s performance is hugely impressive in her first film, portraying a character with a psychopathic lack of empathy and sincere emotion as she goads her conscience plagued partner Farhang (Farhang Ghajar) into agreeing to her plans. She demonstrates vulnerability when the situation requires it, while cold-blooded malevolence is on demand equally as she toys feline-like with her prey.
As good as Fraser is, however, the film itself simply cannot keep pace with her. For his part, Ghajar does his best, but his descent from being an equal partner in his wife’s malevolent plan, to becoming a whimpering objector is too rapid and unconvincing. This in turn unbalances the film, as some early, darkly entertaining scenes of the couple shopping for equipment in a hardware store feel too contrived in hindsight. Inconsistency in the narrative leads to a section of the film that is too static, as the couple bicker about what to do with tedious repetition. Imagine watching a couple arguing in the supermarket in real life; it’s funny and engrossing for a few moments but quickly becomes dull and tiresome.
This lull in the film does detract somewhat from all the good work that Fraser and McAnulty have put in, and although unsuccessful, it is clear what the director was striving for in these scenes. Realism and conviction are staples of the found footage genre, and ones so often lacking, and the relationship between Jennifer and Farhang is central to the film. But the strength of Fraser’s performance raised the standard required and disappointingly, if understandably, Capture Kill Release just couldn’t follow her to that level. If this sounds negative, it’s not the intention: Capture Kill Release is an interesting, often uncomfortable film that deserves to be seen, if only for that one stunning performance.
So very close indeed.
CAPTURE KILL RELEASE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: NICK MCANULTY / STARRING: JENNIFER FRASER, FARHANG GHAJAR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW