This Is Torture: Being Held Against Your Will in Kidnapped


Kidnapped observes a terrible evening in the lives of one upper-middle-class Spanish family, a father, mother, and 18-year old daughter (Fernando Cayo, Ana Wagener, and Manuela Vellés), who’ve just finished moving into a secluded new house when they’re held hostage by home invaders. As most of Kidnapped is devoted to watching people in extreme duress, leaving room for little else, it follows that the film exists solely to be “intense.” For this to be achieved, the theoretical viewer must never have seen this kind of cold, ugly movie before—though such virginal audiences must be increasingly scarce. That viewer would then, presumably, be compelled to keep watching in hopes of seeing the family survive (though Kidnapped could also work for proxy bullies). Most will, instead, be eager to see the family die, because a) they might stop blubbering then, and b) they’re just actors in a particularly doltish movie. The long takes and lack of theatrical affect are presumably meant to heighten the realism by dispensing with film-fiction artifice, but in the process, everything that might lure a viewer—the seduction of style and plot or an engagement with characters—is forgotten. Nerds may be fascinated to know that Kidnapped is composed of several long and reasonably well-blocked sequence shots that anyone could manage after a year of film school. These do not ennoble the impotent racket.