Kidnapped is not an easy film to get through. Possibly the most brutal and unrelenting experience since 2007’s Inside (L’Interieur), the film simply won’t be an enjoyable experience for most people.
It’s not supposed to be. At its core it’s another home invasion film, something we’ve seen quite frequently lately. We’ve had The Strangers, Inside, Funny Games, Martyrs, Them, hell, even Panic Room– but Kidnapped strives to be the most realistic of the bunch, and likely achieves that goal. It’s easily one of the most successful horror films in years.
The tone is succinctly set right from the beginning, as we see a beaten and bruised man with a plastic bag over his head waking up and stumbling for help by the side of a road, trying to contact his family. He’s too late.
Afterwards we’re introduced to Jamie (Fernando Cayo), his wife Marta (Ana Wagener) and their daughter Isa (Manuela Vellés) as they’re moving into a beautiful new home. Jamie’s obviously done well for himself- the place is gigantic and though he bickers with his wife about parenting their teenage daughter, it’s obvious they love each other. After the movers get everything settled and everyone has left, Isa wants to go out with her boyfriend. Her mother Marta is disappointed because she hoped that the three of them would spend the first night in their new house together. She’s going to get her wish, but it won’t be the nice quiet night she envisioned.
Early evening the three of them are interrupted by three men wearing balaclavas that burst in the house, punching out Jamie and smashing Isa’s head into a wall as they subdue them. They gather the bloodied family in the living room and lay out their plans. They want their credit card numbers, and the family, though in shock and out of it, complies. They promise that nothing will happen to the family if they listen to their orders but you know how simple plans usually go in a situation like this, and frantic decisions made by the family and an out-of-control sociopath on the kidnapper’s side don’t help to keep things calm.
Jamie is taken out of the house by the leader of the group to drive around to ATMs to take out money, as he worries about what’s going on with his girls back home.
Anyone hoping for subtext or meaning in Kidnapped will likely find none- the family is a tiny bit dysfunctional but not in any way that’s a condemnation of the Spanish family, and while the kidnappers are foreign and there could be something to say for that it’s not really touched on. The film is really all about the horror of putting yourself in their situation, of being forced to try to survive some grisly situation and hoping you’re doing the right thing.
It’s beautifully shot and really takes its time getting where it’s going, comprised of mostly long uninterrupted tracking shots. Director Miguel Ángel Vivas must be a fan of Brian De Palma because he utilizes split screen in the perfect way, showing two paralleled events going on simultaneously. When the violence begins it just gets worse and worse, and here is where the squeamish might not make it. It’s quite a gory flick, the quick and disturbing moments of violence only made worse by the leisurely pace taken to get to them.
The ending, well, the less said about it the better. But let’s just say that you won’t forget it anytime soon.
A truly haunting experience.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Kidnapped is currently available in theaters in a limited release and on VOD. Check the official site to see if it’s playing near you, and don’t plan on doing anything fun after seeing the film. You aren’t going out dancing after this one.