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Kidnapped Movie Review

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There's a line between suspense and sadism, and if the Spanish hostage thriller Kidnapped is any indication, the pretty much captive movie audience is being held hostage along with the victims up on the screen too. This cynical slasher spree in arty clothing likewise brings to mind the lipstick on a pig notion that when you toss in some slick technical camera moves here and there, cheap gore may not seem so sleazy bargain basement to some anymore.

Kidnapped - the original title Secuestrados translates as 'hostages' - unfolds in a posh suburban Madrid suburb. A bickering, fabulously wealthy family has just taken residence that day in their spanking new sprawling, elegant digs. And boasting fancy winding corridors that are meant to soon serve as dead end escape routes, in this fast approaching, cut to the chase cat and mouse creep-out.

Only child Isa (Manuela Vellés) is a disgruntled and defiant teen not at all happy with this move away from the city, and is bent on bolting at the first opportunity to party with her friends back in Madrid. Mom (Ana Wagener) on the other hand, would like everyone to gather for a special dinner to celebrate their new home, while affluent breadwinner César (Xoel Yáńez) just wants to wind down after work and relax, and basically ignore these two battling females.

But in the midst of cartons barely unpacked, there's a knock at the door. And three masked thugs yapping alternately in Albanian and Spanish, proceed to torture the family into submission. One pathological perp in particular immediately makes himself at home without permission, as he fetches some snacks from the fridge and plops himself in front of the TV with the remote, between the two by now bloody and creatively tortured, bound and gagged women. And as the radically unhinged brutalizer mulls helping himself later on to the daughter too, the most focused member of the terrorizing trio takes Dad out for some banking chores, namely to empty out every last ATM in the vicinity.

Now even if Kidnapped director Miguel Angel Vivas may not have had in mind the demonization of immigrants from Eastern Europe who are simultaneously fueling resentments off screen across that continent, this movie reeks with those insinuations, plain as day. And with these home invaders in the movie somewhat as stand-in metaphorical economic intruders in Spain, where unemployment is the highest in Europe at 21 percent, has soared to a record nearly 45 percent among Spanish youth, and recently precipitated the mass tent city, Cairo style anti-austerity protests across the nation.

And while there's likely an audience out there for this sort of paranoid simulated snuff, cup of disemboweled entrails where enjoying the pain of others is key, those who favor more wholesome entertainment will probably feel nearly as turned off by this arthouse home invasion torture porn, as the assigned victims on screen. Though increasingly faced with a world now in which gleeful heads of state lick their chops and boast with smug satisfaction daily in the corporate media about how many they've anonymously bombed into oblivion or successfully set up for extra-judicial target assassination and execution that day, is it any wonder.

IFC Films
1 [out of 4] stars

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact her through NewsBlaze.

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