Captivity

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NEW YORK -- A lot of horrific things happen in "Saw 4," uh, I mean, "Captivity," the new horror flick about a supermodel being terrorized and tortured by a mysterious assailant. The female victim is drugged, gassed, nearly buried alive, forced to shoot her own dog, fed a smoothie consisting of human body parts and, worst of all, made to watch her own media coverage. But for sheer horror, these things pale in comparison to the mostly solitary men in attendance at an early show at a 42nd Street theater, intently staring at the screen as if they were watching a motivational training film as well as the film's end credit ("A Roland Joffe film").

What made the esteemed director of "The Killing Fields" and "The Mission" stoop to this is anybody's guess. According to a production insider, the film originally was conceived as a dark psychological thriller, but was sent back for reshoots to make it more of a torture porn genre exercise. Considering the recent wan commercial reception for "Hostel: Part II," that might have been a miscalculation.

In any case, the end result doesn't even satisfy on its own sleazy terms. Not only does it lack the satirical nihilism of the "Hostel" films or the admittedly clever torture machinations of the "Saw" series, it doesn't even provide its target young male audience with the requisite nudity.

Elisha Cuthbert, in only marginally more danger here than she was as Jack Bauer's perpetually unlucky daughter on Fox's "24," stars as Jennifer, a Manhattan supermodel who has her apple martini spiked one night while out clubbing. Waking up in a dark dungeon, she is subjected to a series of increasingly elaborate mind games exploiting the fears she has expressed in interviews. Just as she's about to go over the edge, she discovers a fellow prisoner, Gary (Daniel Gillies), a young man who actually matches her in the hotness department. Terror being a natural aphrodisiac, it isn't long before these two crazy kids wind up between the sheets.

Relatively straightforward up to that point, Larry Cohen and Joseph Tura's screenplay thereafter introduces twisty plot developments, but it's too little, too late.

Shot in a Moscow studio by a mostly Russian crew, the film compares well to similar genre films in all technical departments. It bears no visual indication of slumming on the part of its esteemed director, and Marco Beltrami's musical score is typically first rate. But it's a sad state of affairs when one of our most talented filmmakers is reduced to this level.

CAPTIVITY
Lionsgate Entertainment and After Dark Films
A Foresight Unlimited production
Credits:
Director: Roland Joffe
Screenwriters: Larry Cohen, Joseph Tura
Producers: Mark Damon, Sergei Konov, Gary Mehlman, Leonid Minkovski
Executive producer: Valery Chumak
Director of photography: Daniel Pearl
Production designer: Addis Gadzhiyev
Music: Marco Beltrami
Co-producers: Jill Gatsby, Alexandra Mehlman, Tamara Stuparich de la Barra
Costume designer: Jennifer Marlin
Editor: Richard Nord
Cast:
Jennifer: Elisha Cuthbert
Gary: Daniel Gillies
Ben: Pruitt Taylor Vince
Bettinger: Michael Harney
Di Santos: Laz Alonso
Mary D'Abro: Chrysta Olson
Victim #1: Carl Paoli
Victim #2: Trent Broin
Running time -- 85 minutes
MPAA rating: R
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