Captive short film review

★★★★

Directed by: Thomas Elliott Griffiths

Written by: Thomas Elliott Griffiths, Duane Williams

Starring: Lew Freeburn, Michael Robert Leonard

Film Review by: Jason Knight


Filmmaker Thomas Elliott Griffiths created Captive, a short dark comedy horror film which (as the title suggests) is about a man being held against his will.


A man (Lew Freeburn) wakes up to find out that he has being kidnapped and brought to an unknown, interior, dark location that appears to be an abandoned building. He is tied up on a chair with a bag over his head. Around him are sharp tools on a table that appear to be used for torture and small pools of what appears to be blood. Through the bag he can vaguely see a sinister-looking figure (Michael Robert Leonard), dressed in black, wearing a black ski mask and dark goggles. The bound man pleads with him to let him go, only for the fiend to respond by grabbing a knife-like tool and telling him that he is going to mutilate him. The man manages to untie himself and when his kidnapper isn't looking, he grabs what looks like a long piece of metal and uses it to strike him in the face. He then makes a run for it and exits the building through a door. And what does he encounter outside? He sees three of his friends welcoming him to his bachelor party. They are about to start a barbecue and they have put up a large banner on a tent with the words: ''Dave's Stag Do'' written on it. Then the kidnapper appears, having removed his mask, blood dripping from his mouth and Dave realises that he is his friend, Steve.


The mise-en-scene, music and opening credits deserve a great deal of praise because up until the twist they effectively convince the viewer that they are watching a horror film. The film begins with a sinister score by Thomas Forfar and the title appears in red letters. The 'torture room' is dark and appears old and seems to have been abandoned for ages. There is fake blood here and there and sharp, menacing tools all around, giving the impression that things are about to get nasty. And when the audience first gets a look at the 'maniac', dressed in black, wearing a ski mask and goggles, they instantly realise that he is up to no good. When Dave leaves the building, there is a point of view shot that changes the entire mood of the story. It shows his three friends smiling at him, two sitting on chairs around a table, one tending to the barbecue and the 'stag do' banner on the large tent. The mise-en-scene in this shot immediately makes it clear that was all a prank. A prank gone badly wrong.


Captive is one of those films that after they are viewed for the first time, they will never be viewed from the same perspective again. That is due to the plot twist. When the audience watches it for the first time, they believe it is a horror film, until it is revealed that it was a joke. Therefore when viewed again the audience will most likely be amused by the way the 'killer' taunts and threatens poor Dave.


The film also gains by impressive acting. Freeburn is great in portraying a man who initially is frightened and desperate only to quickly be shocked and surprised, having realised that he was a victim of a joke and that he smashed his friend's face. Leonard delivers a frightening performance as the deranged psycho and then makes one feel sorry for him as he exits the building holding his bloodied mouth, pain and agony written all over his face. And the actors who play the three friends at the barbecue also deserve praise as they are convincing when they happily welcome Dave to his party and when they are shocked after they realise that Steve has been injured.


The cast and crew have managed to create a feature that is highly likely to remind people of the 1986 slasher film April Fool's Day.


#JasonKnight