aptly-titled KIDNAPPED is the most harrowing film I have ever seen. From the first frame we are in the hands of
someone who wants to hurt us, to toy with us, and put us in the shoes of the
family that becomes the unwitting victim of unabashed greed. Filmed in extremely uncomfortable long takes
and often in master shots which effectively heighten the tension and increase
the realism, KIDNAPPED, known in its native Spain as SECUESTRADOS, unfolds like
a newspaper headline. At times riveting
and at other times maddening, KIDNAPPED is the latest in a sub-genre of films
that want to push the audience to the limit.
The filmmakers almost seem to be taunting, "How much of this can
most films of this ilk, you either love it or you hate it; there generally
doesn't seem to be anywhere in-between.
A group of home movers are finishing up settling Jamie (Fernando Cayo),
Marta (Ana Wagener) and their 23 year-old daughter Isa (Manuela Velles) into a
sprawling new home. Isa is pestering her
mother to let her go out with her boyfriend Cesar (Xoel Yanez), but Marta
insists that they all celebrate their first evening together in their new house
by having dinner and champagne together.
Later that night, the bickering becomes more intense and we almost feel
that we are eavesdropping on someone's conversation that should be
private. Jamie, on the other hand, insouciantly
brushes off Marta's protests and feels that Isa should go out if she
wants. Marta resents this, and in the
midst of a heated debate three men wearing black from head to toe break into
their home and demand their credit cards and personal identification numbers (the
house is completely unsafe as there are more windows than there are walls).
the ring leader (Dritan Biba) appears to be calm and level-headed, the biggest and
brashest of the three (Martijn Kuiper) is the most nefarious of the group as he
threatens and generally pushes the women around the house, ordering them to
keep quiet. Meneer Kuiper, from
Amsterdam, creates a convincing portrait of a dangerous scumbag whose face you
literally want to reach through the screen and smash until there is nothing
left of it, especially following his brazen rape of Isa. Guillermo Barrientos plays the third robber,
who also happens to be one of the movers.
the ring leader goes with Jamie to an ATM and tells him to withdraw money. Jamie is warned that if he attempts to escape
or signal another person for help, his family will be killed.
this, he attempts to ask a woman at the ATM to call the police. Thinking she is being robbed, she becomes
distraught and hurls her cell phone at him, running off.
go from bad to worse back at the house as Isa's boyfriend shows up and becomes
part of the kidnapping ploy. To reveal
any further plot points would ruin the effect of the film.
Miguel Angel Vivas takes the premise behind Michael Haneke's FUNNY GAMES (1997
& 2007) and to a certain extent Paul Andrew Williams' CHERRY TREE LANE (2010)
and turns it up to eleven (in the former the perpetrators are a duo, and in the
latter the ring leader of three terrorists know their victim and are out for
blood due to a slight that is never explained).
I hate to use the phrase "edge of your seat thriller" because
it is almost as overused as the word "awesome" but I can say that
this film is exactly that. It gets your
heart racing, and you will more than likely find yourself yelling at the
characters on the screen.
photographed and edited, there are instances that harken back to Brian De Palma's
early works like SISTERS (1973), PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974), and CARRIE
(1976) in its use of split-screen.
is truly amazing is how the cast and crew manage to move about the premises in
long takes without every really getting into each other's way. The actors are excellent and bring the
audience into their plight.
DVD contains the film's trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
you have a strong stomach, the film is available at Amazon.com.