‘Caught’: Film Review

Courtesy of Los Angeles Film Festival
Insufficiently ambitious to merit genuine genre status.

Two women violently clash over the same man’s affections in this low-budget feature.

Conflict between mismatched romantic rivals escalates unpredictably in Maggie Kiley’s Caught, a domestic thriller of diminutive proportions. Film festivals should continue to welcome this female-centered feature, although wider acceptance may require maximizing a sufficiently broad diversity of home-entertainment formats. 

Caught follows Allie (Stefanie Scott), a fairly typical teen who’s focused on her studies, winning a spot on the high school track team and holding down a waitressing job at her single mom Beth’s (Mary McCann) restaurant. Secretly though, she’s having a thrilling affair with much older Justin (Sam Page), whom she meets for brief dates or hurried sex in his car. She’s unaware that her lover is married to self-absorbed, vindictive Sabrina (Anna Camp), however, who recruits her younger sister Paige (Amelia Rose Blaire) to help kidnap Allie while Justin is out of town on business in a bid to scare the teenager away from her husband. Blindfolded and tied up in Sabrina and Justin’s attic, terrified Allie expects to be assaulted at any moment, while downstairs Sabrina gloats over the success of her “prank” and prepares cocktails that she forces on shy high-schooler Paige.

Up in the attic, Allie struggles to free herself as Paige begs Sabrina to let the girl go before things get out of hand. Eventually Allie slips out of her bonds but injures her ankle sneaking through the house trying to escape. At the same time, Justin returns unexpectedly from the airport to find his girlfriend being held captive in his home and his wife raging about his infidelity. With her plot exposed and desperate to maintain the illusion of her rock-solid marriage, Sabrina manipulates Justin into helping her subdue Allie in an attempt to cover up the crime, just as a plainclothes sheriff’s deputy arrives on their doorstep asking about the missing girl.

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Kiley, directing her third feature, has the production well in hand, setting most of the action in the captors’ well-appointed suburban home. Marcy Holland’s rather mundane script doesn’t provide much opportunity for stylistic invention, however. Limited by the constraints of a low-key thriller that lacks any particularly surprising twists, Holland neglects to introduce sufficient humor, irony or suspense to elevate the material much above the level of a particularly tense domestic drama.

Scott, who recently excelled as Insidious: Chapter 3’s young protagonist, has an essentially reactive role in Caught, as Allie’s relatively feeble attempts at escape repeatedly falter until a belated reversal of events late in the film. Notwithstanding her high-profile appearances in the Pitch Perfect films, insufficient context regarding Sabrina and Justin’s marriage leaves Camp uncomfortably stuck with the part of the stereotypically jealous, jilted spouse bent on retribution, but it’s a performance that lacks emotional range, although Page has even less background to draw on as the prime offender who’s never expected to fully account for his transgressions. With her True Blood and Scream TV credits, Blaire has far more to offer than she’s called upon to deliver as Sabrina’s conflicted younger sister, Paige, who lacks adequate motivation and definition throughout much of the movie. 

Production company: Mar Vista Entertainment, Covert Productions
Cast: Anna Camp, Stefanie Scott, Sam Page, Amelia Rose Blaire, Mary McCann
Director: Maggie Kiley
Screenwriter: Marcy Holland
Producer: Jennifer Westin
Executive producers: Fernando Szew, Sharon Bordas
Director of photography: Martim Vian
Production designer: Lauren Fitzsimmons
Editor: Vincent Oresman
Music: Matthew Puckett
No rating, 84 minutes

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