Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas
Stars: Fernando Cayo, Manuela Vellés, Ana Wagener
Rich? Successful? Nice new house? You’re f@#%ed
I love a good home invasion horror film. There’s something compelling about watching innocent people trying to survive an attack on their home. I even love the film’s most people don’t give a toss about like, Darren Lynn Bousman’s Mother’s Day remake. Kidnapped is a home invasion film in the purest sense of the word. It completely strips the whole idea to its bare basics and offers nothing new to the subgenre. However, what it lacks in originality it makes up for in its impressive execution, acting and intense atmosphere.
The opening to the film is one of the most uncomfortable moments. It follows a bloodied man waking up in the middle of nowhere with a plastic bag tied around his head. He stumbles around a foresty area, struggling to breathe with the bag suffocating him. Watching this made me almost feel as if I was being smothered! The cause of this effect is that it’s filmed entirely in one long take. In fact, you might be surprised to find out after watching that the entire 80 minute film consists of just 12 takes. This is even less than Michael Haneke’s shots in Funny Games!
These long takes create a chillingly realistic atmosphere. The shots aren’t static either, there’s always some claustrophobic sense of movement as the camera follows characters around the house. It’s a technical marvel! I loved the sequence which showed the family moving into their new posh house. There’s some very clichéd dialogue between the mother and teenage daughter about the Mum not letting the daughter go out tonight and the Dad not caring. It’s not imaginative in the slightest, but the fluid camerawork makes it interesting. Once the intruders burst in, it’s jarring and the intensity rises.
It doesn’t add any new ideas, but thanks to the amazing camerawork and acting it places Kidnapped a cut above the other home invasion movies. I was particularly impressed with the girl’s performance. I expect most people will find her hysteria irritating, but it felt so real and justified. Usually in these types of film, character behaviour is unrealistic or contrived in order to aid with the film’s plot. Everything here is shown in a very realistic way. Put that together with the super-long takes and you’ve got something that feels more like a snuff film than anything else. To normal people this isn’t entertainment, but horror fiends will find it arresting. The use of split-screen also succeeded well in building tension and creating claustrophobia.
Kidnapped might not have the same innovation as say, You’re Next but it is an exceptionally well-made film. I was gripped throughout and impressed by the shocking ending which pulls the rug from under your feet. I would’ve liked it to have been longer and to create a few more original ideas for itself, but it’s the directing which is its saving grace. It becomes more like an experience. In a sense Kidnapped is like a non-judgmental version of Funny Games. Whereas, Funny Games criticises you for watching it, Kidnapped is more concerned with giving its audience a slice of intense real life. Hollywood should just leave horror to the foreigners.