Captive (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Captive (2021) Review

Horrorific content by Yo Adrian on June 26th, 2021 | Movie Review | Drama, Psychological, Thriller, Confined

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A teenage runaway who’s trapped by a delusional man, pretends to be his daughter in order to escape.

Captive was directed by Savvas Christou and stars Jolene Andersen (from Hellraiser: Revelations), William Kircher, Tori Kostic, Meghan Hanako, Jairus Carey, Chris Barry and David Lee Hess.

Get out alive.

Captive Review

Brought to you by writer-director Savvas Christou, Captive (aka Katherine's Lulliby) is among the latest additions to the "suspenseful escape" horror subgenre. All the classic elements are there, including a fresh-faced victim who's young and seemingly innocent, an isolated wooded setting, and a complex antagonist who keeps you guessing. But just when you think you know what Captive's all about, it takes a sharp turn to the left.

Captive is the story of Lily (Kostic). At the start of the film, she's camping in the woods with her boyfriend Neil (Carey), but things aren't going well. Lily has a suspicious bruise on her head that makes the viewer wonder whether Neil's responsible, an assumption that turns out to be false. However, the truth isn't much better. Lily is running away from her abusive stepfather, and Neil's along for the ride.

When Neil leaves to find fresh water and fails to come back, Lily doesn't know what to do. Neil happened to have her phone on him when he disappeared, so she can't call or text for help. Left with no other options, she wanders through the woods in search of help. Eventually, she happens upon a beautiful home – a home occupied by a man named Evan (Kircher). However, Evan soon reveals that he isn't the savior he appears to be.

He is convinced that Lily is really Katherine, his missing daughter with whom he had a relationship that was troubled at best. Before Lily knows it, Evan's taken her captive and locked her in a closet. He's also hellbent on resuming his problematic relationship with "Katherine" right where he left off, much to Lily's horror. Lily decides to play along to buy herself time to escape. Will she succeed, or is she destined to remain a captive forever?

At surface level, Captive is the type of story that's been told many times before. Tales of innocent victims winding up trapped in the secluded home of someone who doesn't have their best interests at heart have been part of popular culture since Gretel and Hansel. However, Captive has a few twists and turns under its belt to keep things interesting.

Much of the characters' backstory is revealed through a series of flashbacks – flashbacks that are very well-executed and reveal just enough information at precisely the right times. Through these, the audience gains context for Evan's mental distress and insight into who Katherine was, as well as his deceased wife, Ivy (Anderson). There's also an exciting degree of uncertainty introduced as to Lily's assumed innocence. Christou cleverly plays with perspective to challenge the audience's sympathies in a highly effective way.

There are things about the film that feel a bit forced. For instance, while both Kircher and Kostic turn in terrific performances, there's something difficult to believe about their chemistry as it relates to the story at hand here. It's also a little hard to believe in the plausibility of a person going from one toxic living situation straight into another that's even worse. But these things don't ruin the film or stop it from being a terrific watch.

Worth Watching?

Absolutely. Captive lulls you into believing you're watching a story that's exactly like so many others you've heard, but then it surprises you again and again. The twists and turns, including the biggest one at the end, are hard to predict and highly satisfying when they do happen. This isn't a gorefest or an action-packed tale of tension, but it doesn't need to be. The dialogue and fascinating psychological play at work here are all the film needs to be wholly unsettling and satisfying.

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