Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas
Writer: Miguel Ángel Vivas & Javier Garcia
Starring: Fernando Cayo, Manuela Velles, Ana Wagener, Guillermo Barrientos, Nartijn Kuiper, Dritan Biba, Xoel Yanez, Pepo Suevos
Tagline: Take your last breath.
Release Date: June 15, 2011 (VOD) and June 17, 2011 (Limited Theatrical)
Official Site: www.ifcfilms.com
In recent years, IFC Films has become synonymous with independent films that stand on the edge of avant garde. As such I can see why the Spanish-thriller Kidnapped (Secuestrados) might have held some appeal. Similar in concept to films like The Strangers, Last House on the Left and a slew of others, Kidnapped is a film that preys on the fear of being victimized by an all-too-human evil. Its slick and sexy in the way that Vivas navigates the techinical aspects of the production, but it’s methodical tendencies to depict events in real time leave little room for creative execution. In fact, the film is a pastiche of every home invasion flick in the last decade, following a succinct pattern of brutal events all depicted through the singular lens of a tense third person perspective.
The film opens with a disorienting introduction where a bloodied, beaten man awakens bound in the woods with a plastic bag over his face. In panic, the man races through the woods before being hit head on by a passing car who stops to help. Upon being freed the man demands a cell phone to call and warn his family of what’s happened only to discover that he’s too late– the “bad guys” are already inside.
While these 5 minutes make for a great opening sequence that’s guaranteed to grab your attention, it turns out to be completely disconnected to the other 80 minutes of the movie aside from serving as a forced bit of foreshadowing. The actual plot picks up with a family who is in the midst of settling in their new home. Here we’re introduced to Jaime (Fernando Cayo), Marta (Ana Wagener) and their teenage daughter Isa (Manuela Velles) who is eager to spend her first night outside of the house with her friends. This sets up an argument between mother and father that’s standard parent characterization, but it’s not too long before the intruders arrive and their lives are changes forever.
Kidnapped is a chore to get through– not because it fails on any technical level, but because its script is so straightforward. Unlike Michael Haneke’s Funny Games from 2007 which provided the viewer with enough misdirection to keep them guessing, Kidnapped never once lets you believe that there are any big twists in store. There’s the stereotypical pack of villains (the leader, the kindhearted one, and the violent one), a few unexpected visitors, a rape, and some brutal violence, but its all mapped out far in advance. Jaime and his family fight back, but they’re ultimately at the mercy of their captors. Much like the audience, all they can really hope for is a quick release.