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Fantastic Fest 2010: Capone is deeply disturbed by the Spanish home invasion film KIDNAPPED!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Well I just got punched in the guy about 50 times, and I loved every minute of it. The latest work from Spanish newcomer Miguel Angel Vivas, who directed and co-wrote with Javier García, is called KIDNAPPED, and it is as raw, tense, tight and brutal a film as I've seen during all of Fantastic Fest. Consisting of a series of long takes using handheld video cameras (although not ridiculously shaky in its execution), KIDNAPPED (the actual Spanish title is SECUESTRADOS, although the subtitles in the screener I watched called the film HOSTAGES) is one of the best home invasion films I've ever seen, if for not other reason than Vivas isn't trying to scare us by having the people who live in the house hide from the invaders. Three masked gunmen come right in the house of this family (mom, dad, 18-year-old daughter), who have only just moved in the same day, and seem to have a routine down about how to rob them. Valuables in a bag, ATM cards and passwords collected, dad goes with one of the criminals to empty out the bank accounts while the others watch over the women. Simple, right? Hardly. I was so engaged with the flow of this film. By keeping edits to a minimum, Vivas makes this ordeal feel like it's unfolding in real time. But like all great plans, life has a way of intervening. The daughter's boyfriend drops by the house, a neighborhood watch cop does as well, one of the kidnappers is snorting coke and is apparently loves it when women fight back while he raping them. The film is far from pleasant, but there's a great deal of skill at play here, some of it subtle and other times explosive and gruesome as hell. The actors playing the family are especially great. Fernando Cayo and Ana Wagener play Jaime and Marta, a seemingly happy couple, perhaps slightly stressed about the move and getting settled. Their only fight is about their daughter Isa (Manuela Velles) playing them off each other when she announces she wants to go out that first evening rather than have a celebratory family dinner. The film shatters the myth that living in a bigger house makes you somehow safe, and it toys with the typical home invasion staple of keeping the kidnappers faces hidden. Each one is eventually revealed and not always with great fanfare. KIDNAPPED is a film that takes a familiar sub-genre of horror and somehow manages to both class it up and degrade it. The occasional use of split screen to show what's going on in two different places (either within rooms of the house or showing us activity in the house and on the road with the father) is never used as a gimmick; it's only brought in to enhance very specific events that I won't spoil. I won't lie, KIDNAPPED is rough at times, but the way director Vivas allowed the action to unfold almost organically is astounding. This is easily one of my favorites of this year's Fantastic Fest.
-- Capone Follow Me On Twitter

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