Written and directed by Savvas Christou, a teenage runaway who’s trapped by a delusional man, pretends to be his daughter in order to escape. Starring: William Kircher, Tori Kostic, Jolene Andersen, Jairus Carey, Meghan Hanako, Chris Barry and David Lee Hess.
The key element with any thriller, is holding your attention from start to finish, no matter what else it does, it has to keep you glued for its runtime and Captive achieves that. It quickly brings through a solid tension, it puts you in a very suspicious state and then as the dust begins to settle, it keeps you hanging on to watch the nature of Evan (William Kircher) and Lily’s (Tori Kostic) relationship develop. There are some elements to how the story progresses that aren’t entirely satisfying, it’s hard not to wonder why she isn’t more inquisitive in the beginning and choices in its big finale will likely work more for some viewers than others. You can see what they’re going for and it does fit to a certain degree but the simplest explanation is that it will work for you depending on how you’ve pieced it together up until that point, it’s an individual experience rather than one definitively.
Coming at a close second in the rank of importance is the performances, because no matter how much tension the direction can bring, it can only do its job if the acting backs it up. Kostic’s portrayal can feel slightly shaky at times in the beginning but it strengthens as time goes on and adds a curiosity and darkness to it. Kircher plays this role well, there’s the balance of stable vs unstable vs feigned stability that could break any second. His character is intense and hardened at times, yet bubbling with generosity, all of which Kircher portrays very well and leaves you always unknowing of what he might do next. The two of them together make great sparring partners, they’re easy yet entirely uncomfortable to watch which strikes the right note.
Christou’s direction enhances that discomfort throughout, it brings that closed in feeling without becoming claustrophobic. There are potentially a few shots that could have been cut to sharpen it up a little but the style is consistent throughout. It makes use of the beautiful natural setting early on, the great wide open and wooded locations add to the atmosphere, its feeling of isolation and fear. There’s an aspect to it that feels fairly restrained, often with thrillers filmmakers can try to throw in more angles and movements that are obscure or edgy which end up feeling shallow, whereas Christou’s choice of style in this case allows it to feel more natural.
Captive is a solid thriller that holds your attention from start to finish, it has a touch of darkness but is full of curiosity and suspicion. The psychological style to its story, leaves you with more questions about who these people really are when the credits roll. Kircher and Kostic create a captivating atmosphere of fear and dangerous possibilities but also one that speaks to the basic desire people have to be loved and cared for. This film feels like perfect evening entertainment, it’s not too heavy or dark and it has just enough thrill and uncertainty to keep you hooked.