First Hotel: Part II, now Captivity. Despite their many critics, The Passion of the Christ and Wolf Creek at least invited debate as to the merits and drawbacks of their exhibited violence, whereas these attempts at visceral titillation are totally oblivious to—more likely uncaring of—their own vapidity. They exist only to superficially temper with our physical comfort zones, deadening us to the unpleasant realities of the world from the safety of our homes and theaters. Why bother concerning ourselves with the pain and suffering of others when this kind of entertainment is there to aid us in our vicarious thrills? Captivity isn’t a horror film—it’s a poseur Grand Guignol, artistically indefensible and rank without purpose, save for its ability to draw box office dollars and entertain anyone foolhardy enough to fall for its cheap shock tactics. It is, admittedly, less cowardly than Eli Roth’s latest, but infinitely more lazy in its execution.
A supermodel (Elisha Cuthbert) is captured and held prisoner, routinely subjected to torturous devices that suggest physical harm far more than they actually perform it. Joffé aims to unnerve his audience by focusing largely on uneasy details—a deformed doll, scattered human remains, tubes and other medicinal objects—but there’s not a genuinely unsettling thing to be found once you get past the film’s adolescent gag reflex (oh no, eyeball puree!). If we’re to be grateful for anything, it’s the fact that the film and its makers haven’t bent over backward to suck themselves off over any purported social commentary within this mess, though the film does end on a note that draws comparisons to Hotel: Part II‘s feminist lip service. Such honesty about its decidedly rotten intentions, however, doesn’t change the offenses rendered by its dismal aesthetics, which stand a long way off from The Texax Chainsaw Massacre‘s masterful lighting, editing, and composition work—hell, even the first Saw was a savory work of artistry by comparison. Captivity would seem to think that having such low standards somehow guarantees it legitimacy within its genre, a naïve attitude that only further cements its already contemptible cluelessness.