Captivity – Review

Image courtesy of


Roland Joffé


Elisha Cuthbert .Jennifer
Daniel Gillies .Gary
Pruitt Taylor Vince .Ben
Michael Harney .Bettinger
Laz Alonso .Di Santos
Chrysta Olson .Mary D’Abro
Carl Paoli .Victim #1
Trent Broin .Victim #2

At this juncture, how far away are we from an actual snuff film being released nation wide? The torture porn genre has taken us as far as we can go without actually killing people on screen. With that in mind, it is hard to decide if Captivity is a success or a failure. Judging the film by the torture porn criteria, we are apparently supposed to ponder if the victim suffers enough, whether or not the killer is justified, and how sick the film makes us feel. The film does make an effort at all three, and for that it deserves at least some credit. But how much approval can audiences offer this sort of film?

By nature, these gruesome, stylistic, “horror” movies are unappealing. People suffer for suffering’s sake and the animalistic part of the audience will hopefully enjoy it somehow. In Captivity viewers should marvel at Elisha Cuthbert’s beauty before she is abducted, and later applaud the tenacity she exhibits in order to escape her abductors. That is basically the plot. Throw in a crazy plot twist (also known as a lazy plot device) and there you have Captivity.

More interesting for me to consider than the movie’s story arc is the audience I saw it with. Nearly everyone in the theater was between the ages of 30 and 50 and they came alone. I am not sure what exactly that says about the torture porn genre, but I know that it implicates that it is not serving its intended purpose. Horror movies are supposed to be attended by large, young audiences ready to play along with the conventions of the genre, not folks looking for a dark theater where they can explore their more primal desires. Although, it is better they watch a movie about these things than enact such atrocities in real life.

That has always been the most positive aspect of torture porn: the people involved in the making of these movies are, at the very least, not actually committing the crimes they portray on the big screen. Audiences can spend the majority of Captivity celebrating the fact that they are watching these heinous acts committed fictitiously on screen rather than hearing about them in the news. To be honest, I am not sure that movies about abduction and attempted murder are that much better than the real thing. The idea still lies somewhere in the brain of the writer, producer, or director, and that is a scary notion.

For those who want to dwell on these types of thoughts further: go see Captivity right away. Everyone else should be sick at the fact that such films are still getting the green light. It is tough to deal with our culture’s basic acceptance of these films, and it is even harder to watch them. Personally, I found it difficult to watch and review Captivity while suppressing my gag reflex.