Sadistic as it might be, “Kidnapped” is ruthlessly creative from its intense start to the final disturbing image that is bound to burn itself into your brain.
Granted, we have seen more entries from the home-invasion horror genre than we can possibly stomach lately and some are better than others. Having said that, “Kidnapped” is a by-the-numbers account of said scary situation but filmmaker Miguel Ángel Vivas’s brilliant cinematic style sets it apart from the rest.
Fernando Cayo plays Jaime, a relatively wealthy man who has just moved into a luxurious new house with his wife Marta (Ana Wagener) and their teenage daughter Isabel (Manuella Velles). Jaime and Marta are going through a rough patch but have decided to give their relationship one last chance.
On the family’s first evening in their new home, a group of three hooded men (Dritan Biba, Martijn Kuiper and Guillermo Barrientos) burst in and begin physically torturing them with one basic objective: To get as much money as possible out of them in one night.
Sure, the synopsis makes “Kidnapped” sound more like a snuff film than a legitimate motion picture. However, there is genius in the Spanish-language flick’s simplicity, which promotes an intimacy with the characters and a familiarity with their plight while allowing Vivas to exercise his creative muscle to the max.
The filmmaker’s tendency to use long-tracking shots and split screens (ala “24”) ratchets up the tension’s immediacy by keeping the audience absolutely absorbed by the action. Vivas also makes a few fascinating choices in terms of what to show and what to not show, helping “Kidnapped” to rise above some of its more straight-forward siblings.
In that respect, the movie actually works best when the audience is distanced from the physical torture and instead forced to endure the feeling of helplessness exhibited by Cayo’s character, who is taken by one of the assailants across town and therefore away from his wife and daughter. This is where the distress at which Vivas excels really kicks in, making “Kidnapped” a truly emotional thriller.
“Kidnapped” (UR – 85 minutes) is now playing exclusively at The Royale. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.