Kidnapped

Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas

Notable Cast: Dritan Biba, Fernando Cayo, Manuela Vellés

Rating: R

Review:  Home invasion films are the stuff of nightmares, harping on instances that happen on a regular basis.  For real life, we hate to hear of anything this bad happening to such innocent people.  But in our home invasion films, the more brutal and depraved our characters are, the more entertaining it is for the viewer. And no, not in a sick way, like a torture porn type of way, but with a plot so simple, I’m always looking to see how the story can keep me entranced.  Think about it, a home invasion film can be over in a matter of minutes if the robbers just come in and take what they want.  These types of films rely heavily on a story that can keep the tension applied and have us falling off the edge of our seats.  So how did Kidnapped stand up against films like Funny Games or Dream Home?  It’s better than what I’ve seen as of late, but not a genre buster by any means.

As I said, the plot is rather simple.  One night, three Eastern-European criminals break into a luxurious Madrid home.  One of the criminals takes the father to an ATM so he can empty his family’s accounts, while the other two stay back with the wife and daughter. They make the rules very simple; follow directions and you don’t die.  As any other invasion film goes, all does not go according to plan, and the criminals are forced to think on the fly.  Can the tormented family fight back against their brutal assailants?  Or will they be taken for all they’re worth.  That’s the story that Kidnapped tells.

Gotta give credit to Kidnapped for at least trying to keep the intensity…

From the minute the three delinquents force their way into the house, you understand the gravity of the situation.  Miguel Ángel Vivas keeps a careful watch as to make sure there isn’t a break in mood for the most part, which would have been devastating.  There are a few moments where the pace slows down and you’re waiting for that next conflict inducing instance, but just as you’re awaiting that pick up in pace the script delivers another little twist for you to wrap your head around.  But this is also my jumping point to get into what was just more or less lackluster.  Each bend and turn was nothing out of the ordinary, following a uniform set of home invasion rules more or less.  Nothing really took me by surprise, and instead my horror film was filled with the same old bland routine.  I couldn’t be that mad at Kidnapped though because technically it was clean and sound, showing Vivas as an incredibly competent director.  But at the same time, it almost felt too safe for me.  In a time when so many directors are striving to push the envelope, Kidnapped feels like the simple way out.  I struggled just to make my plot summary as long as it is.  The criminals only had one motive, money, and the family only had one motive, survival.  Not much to it.  But again, I stress that Vivas did in fact keep it short and tight, and was able to deliver such a film with technical prowess.  Where I would love to say Kidnapped is nothing but a generic genre time waster, I can’t completely count it out because Vivas made it more watchable than it should have rightfully been.

But, Kidnapped‘s ultimate saving grace is the one part that does deviate from the norm and bring us something different: the end.  You get so used to the pace of the film and almost get put into a trance like state while watching the one dimensional story, and then how Vivas ends everything jumps up and grabs you by the balls.  Kidnapped has one of the more satisfying horror film endings I’ve enjoyed in a while, being up there with The Woman as of late.  I don’t know of a better way Vivas could have summed everything up, being a short and sweet sucker punch of a payoff that plays perfectly to the horrors of the situation.  Without this ending, I think my final rating would have been a whole point lower.  Yes, but a few short minutes of film completely rebounded Kidnapped in my opinion.  Usually, it’s the other way around with film endings, as directors unwind everything they’ve established by some long, crazy, sporadic, drawn out break-through that doesn’t stick with the rest of the film.  Well, Vivas again shows us that sometimes simplicity can be just as effective as a good hook, as maybe we’ve been so brainwashed now to expect the unexpected no matter what film we are watching.

So in short, sometimes simple does work.  Not every film has to be a Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas/Brazil/Twelve Monkeys) epic adventure.  Vivas takes a straight forward plot and wastes no time jumping right into the story.  Kidnapped could have been infinitely more dull and boring, but Vivas rarely stops to take a breath while advancing the story.  It doesn’t get muddled with side stories, and delivers almost exactly what is expected.  But, I didn’t care because Vivas was on the money with delivery.  I love that Kidnapped didn’t try to waste any extra time, and was advancing point to point as quickly as possible.  I would personally love to see what Vivas can do given a project maybe a little more ambitious, because simplicity can only get you so far.  I would have liked a little more consistent action, as Kidnapped only delivers it in spaced out spurts, but again the simplicity of the story didn’t warrant any more.  In order to fully enjoy Kidnapped, you have to appreciate it for what it is: a gripping story of criminal versus family.  And that’s it.

Final Rating: 7 times a day I now check the locks out of 10

I hope being a criminal has sweet health benefits….

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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