Kidnapped (Sequestrados) (2010)
(18) Running time: 85 minutes
Director: Miguel Angel Vivas
Writers: Javier Garcia, Miguel Angel Vivas
Cast: Fernando Cayo, Ana Wagener, Dritan Biba, Manuela Velles
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
Now, before you say “oh no not a another home invasion feature, I have already seen one and they are mostly all the same”, let me tell you right now that Kidnapped is unlike any home invasion feature you will have seen before. On the strengths of this brutal, extremely nasty film, you won’t be in any hurry to see one like it again any time soon.
Director Miguel Angel Vivas has crafted a superior home invasion feature that stands tall as one of the best the genre has to offer, and certainly one of the most shocking. However, the power of Kidnapped not only comes from its unflinching brutality, stunning performances and edge of your seat pacing, but also from a unique shooting gimmick which is rare to such films, and really adds bite. We will get to the source of the films greatness shortly.
Firstly the plot, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t much to talk about, and to delve too much into the films story would hinder your enjoyment, and shock value. So, after a heart attack inducing opening involving a man with a bag on his head, breathing, blood a car and a phone call, we quickly move on to the family who you will be spending the night with. Dad Jaime (Fernando Cayo) is happily moving his family into a new, and rather big, new home. Enjoying the new surroundings are level headed and caring wife Marta (Ana Wagener) and teenage daughter Isa (Manuela Velles). Isa wants to go out and meet her boyfriend, Mum says no yet Dad says “OK”. This leads to a natural two and fro of words of anger from Marta and her husband while they get ready for dinner, the big meal Marta has prepared to celebrate the move. However, before we can finish the argument, a window is smashed and three robbers break into the home.
Mum, Dad and daughter are herded like sheep into the living room, threatened with violence and told to hand over their phones and their credit cards. The robbers insist on having the pin numbers for the cards, and after some obstruction (which leads to a heightened threat of violence), Jaime gives in and gives the robbers what they want in order to protect his family. Jaime is then taken for a drive to withdraw money from various ATMs, while his wife and daughter wait at home, under the watchful eye of the other two robbers. Jaime is with the calm, collected mastermind, while unfortunately for those at home, one man has a conscience, yet the other is a complete psycho.
To tell you much more would be a huge spoiler, so I will stop now. What I can tell you is that Kidnapped plays out pretty cliché for the first hour, but thankfully Vivas’ unique use of just twelve tracking shots for the entire film grant a magnificent level of tension. The camera has a life of its own, and it gets in and out of cars, hides round corners and (most sickening) lingers on a moment of violence, leaving the viewer to suck it up. Your ability to deal with realistic and unhinged violence will be tested here, and make no mistake, Kidnapped is a million miles from the perfect date movie, so only watch with like minded individuals. Showing this to some people could see you branded as a bit disturbed!
So the tracking shots are masterful, powerful ways of improving on the tried and tested home invasion genre, and it really adds edge of your seat menace. It’s a clever trick, but that’s not all. A couple of times Vivas employs a 24 style split screen, and this allows for maximum impact during some of the films more unsettling scenes. On one side you will have a character living in hope, about to make a desperate attempt to change the events of the sadistic night, while on the other you will see the complete opposite, ensuring that the bleaker screen REALLY hits home. Its sadistic, yet impressive, and to the untrained in movie violence, it could be considered perverse?
The camera is intrusive, the split screen gimmick is powerful, and then the score to the film (when it is needed) works really well in keeping the film feeling like it is from your worst nightmare. This is unrelenting, unflinching and unforgiving stuff.
The story holds the attention well, and this is partly down to the fact you have no idea where the director intends to go next, or just how far he will take things. Kidnapped is edgy, dark and exciting because from the beginning it is clear you are in the hands of a director not willing to conform to the norm, not wanting to deliver a film which can easily be accepted. I have seen my fair share of nasty films, and I have become numb to on-screen violence for most of the time, and it takes a lot to really upset me these days. Kidnapped managed to do this, so be prepared.
The film leaves a bitter taste, and you will feel like you have been beaten, battered, spat out and left for dead come the end, but surely as horror fans this is what we are looking for in our genre, films to push us to our limits? Kidnapped will do that to you, yet the way in which it is presented proves that this is not just cheap tactics, or violence for violence sake, this is art, and here is a director simply offering an idea of just how far a home robbery could go. I will be locking ALL my doors and windows from now on.