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Don't get caught dead in `Captivity'

Logic and taste take a holiday in this horror flick, another in a long line of torture films exploiting women.

July 16, 2007|Robert Abele | Special to The Times

The vile billboards heralded it, the controversy stoked it, and now it's loose in public: "Captivity," the latest in check-in-but-don't-check-out torture films. A spirit-sapping exercise in female degradation fantasy, it was directed by Roland Joffe, who has seen his career go from bewailing "The Killing Fields" of Cambodia to slobbering over the hell-maze of a hooded kidnapper/murderer. It's the movie business equivalent of encountering someone you once knew begging for money on the street.

Here's a question: Why do movies with Rube Goldberg-style tormenting contraptions avoid screenplay reason? The dumb logic ranges from head-scratching -- as in the abduction scene, where a famous model (Elisha Cuthbert) is strangely unencumbered by friends, reps or hangers-on at a charity event -- to offensive, when we're asked to believe our later-confined heroine would strip and have hot sex with a handsome fellow abductee (Daniel Gillies), as if she could turn off her brain and imagine her death chamber as a danker-than-usual lovers' hideaway.

It's one of the especially disingenuous elements to the movie's scurrilous, skin-deep psychology, that a woman trapped in a sadist's mind-game funhouse and a lonely female celebrity's oh-so-exploited life are relative. Charnel flick connoisseurs won't even give a flip, of course, not when there are cages, tubes, acid showers, pliers, syringes, severed parts, shotguns and knives ready to be utilized.

All others, remember that theaters have exits. They can be put to use too.


"Captivity." MPAA rating: R for strong violence, torture, pervasive terror, grisly images, language and some sexual material. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes. In general release.

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