Three hooded Eastern-European criminals burst into a home in a Madrid gated community, holding the family hostage in its own home, and forcing the father to empty his credit cards. But the family fights back – brutally.
The Black Saint is feeling a little bit under the weather today so I’ve decided to stay in the mausoleum & do some catching up movie-wise. sometimes it’s cool to just sit back & kick up your feet while watching something new & (Hopefully) scary. The family and my house acolytes are at a BBQ today so I have the joint to myself. What? You didn’t think I gave my acolytes a break sometimes? Every so often I allow them a bit of sunshine & blue skies to enliven their existence a bit. You gotta keep the troops happy if you want them to remain loyal to you. Every true leader knows that..
Today’s entry is a Spanish film called “Kidnapped”(Secuestrados). It’s been getting a ton of buzz on the festival circuit & it’s something I’ve been wanting to catch up with for a long while. Directed by Miguel Angel Vivas & written by Vivas & Javier Garcia, “Kidnapped” tells the story of a family of three, Jaime(Father), Marta(Mother) & Isa(Daughter) moving into a lavish new home in Madrid. We never learn heir last names. As the film begins, we see a man with a bloody hood over his head laying prone by the side of a country road.
For what seems like an eternity, there is no movement at all. Just the camera focused on his head. Suddenly, he takes in a deep gasp of what little air is available under the hood & gets up to his feet. His hands are tied behind his back & the hood is still on but he staggers onto a road where he barely avoids getting hit by a car but the next car nails him. He tumbles to the ground as the driver of the car gets out to help him. The hood is removed & our victim tells the driver that he needs a cell phone to call his family. The driver dials the number & puts the phone to the man’s head. A young girl answers & the frantic man tells her to dial the police immediately. The girl, Dani, tells him that the police are already there & that her mother has been shot.
Cut to moving day, where there is understandably a lot of chaos going on as the movers are going back & forth. The house is enormous & beautiful as we see the father drive up to the front door. It’s situated in a gated community for better security. We find the daughter arguing with the mother over a party she wants to attend that evening. Her mother wants to spend the first night in the house together to celebrate, Isa wants to go out. Isa seems to be something of a spoiled brat & she tells her mother that she’s just going to ask dad instead, going as far to ask Jaime for some money as Marta is talking on the phone to someone selling broadband service.
They continue to argue over it a bit before being interrupted by one of the moving men asking where certain boxes should be put. The moving man follows Isa about the house until she tells him where to put the box. He also has a set of golf clubs that belong to Jaime & asks where to put them. Isa directs him to where her father is & the mover finds him putting some envelopes in a wall safe. Jaime tells him to put them down & he does so & then leaves. We then cut to Isa getting ready to go out, & still arguing with her mother over it. Marta then goes to Jaime & asks him to support her when she tries to discipline the teen. Isa, being “Daddy’s Little Girl” knows just how to manipulate him apparently & does it well. It’s in the middle of the conversation between Jaime & Marta that someone dressed in black bursts through a window, wearing a black hood over his head. He has two others with him as well & they want money…
The opening 20 minutes or so of “Kidnapped” show a sense of fine detail in director Vivas’ eyes. The new home is well detailed & big. It’s obvious Jaime is a high roller although we never find out what it is he does for a living. In addition, Vivas has apparently studied Hitchcock & DePalma a whole lot. Much, but not all of the film is shot in long one take sequences. The camera follows all of the family going about their business with nary a cutaway for quite a while. It’s so effectively done that I didn’t even notice it at first. The camera slinks down long hallways & up/down stairs always keeping us abreast of the rigors of moving into a new home, arguing with “Know It All” teens & such. It reminded me a lot of Kubrick’s steadicam work in “The Shining”, just without any of the dread. I’m sure all of us can relate to the chaos this family is going through tight now & for those of us who have teenage children, we can definitely relate to the mother’s plight in regards to her daughter. These opening minutes play like a well shot LIFETIME movie but I don’t mean that as an insult, It just looks & sounds great. You would think it’s a domestic drama as a matter of fact. If not for the kidnappers…
They tie the three of them up & tell them they want money. All that they have from the safe & their individual bank accounts. The three of them speak Spanish to their victims but another language to themselves. We find out later what that language is. After some initial back & forth, one of them takes the father to the car with all of their bank cards to withdraw money from various ATM machines across the city. In the meanwhile, the other two thugs remain at home with the ladies. At this point the film becomes a little predictable as we discover who one of the thugs are & there is the standard “Good Thug, Bad Thug” dynamic taking place as well. One of them is a psycho & one of them doesn’t want to hurt anyone at all. He just wants to get the money & leave. Then we get the usual tropes that come along with this type of film, unexpected visitors, Phones ringing, tension between the two thugs & the one driving about with the father collecting money. At this point you might get a little bored by it. Probably because you’ve see it all before. i know I have. But director Vivas has a few tricks up his sleeve to alleviate any boredom we might be experiencing. It comes in the form of a long split screen sequence detailing a stand off between the women & the kidnappers in the house. It is a tense & brutally well choreographed sequence that is played to perfection by the cast.
The violence in the film is barely existent in the first hour but believe me, when it kicks in during the last 30 minutes it kicks in hard. It’s a violence that’s sudden & unexpected much like the violence in “I Saw The Devil”. And when it raises it’s ugly head, it WILL get your attention, trust me.
at one point in the film I actually covered my mouth in shock because I was so unprepared for what had just happened. And then it happened again….! The Black Saint doesn’t cover his face much but I was genuinely shocked at what happened during this film. Now I understand what the fuss is all about. This is a seriously wicked little movie! I’m not even going to get near the ending either. You’ll just have to trust me when I say you’ll be disturbed by it. You’ll figure out who the man in the beginning is quickly enough, so I’m not going to touch that either.
“Kidnapped” is a great movie that runs like a fine tuned machine. It is a familial, harrowing, nerve wracking & ultimately terrifying film that does not let you go once you are in it’s grip. You will identify with the family for the first third of it & then shrivel up into a corner as you ask yourself “Could that happen to us”?. Especially if you live in a house. I’m giving it four shrouds for it’s seemingly innocuous set up & it’s terrifying descent into sheer terror. There’s a new player in town folks & his name is Miguel Angel Vivas. He might be cribbing some stylistic moves but if you’re gonna crib something…crib from the best. And that’s what he does, in a sensational manner. See it as soon as possible!
Great review for a damn good movie! Kudos:}