OCTOBER 16, 2010
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (SCREAMFEST)
Do people just not put that little organ donor sticker on their license anymore? Seems like the only way people get organs anymore is through a third party group of mercenaries who kidnap horror movie protagonists and take what they need. Such is the case in Caged (French: Captifs, which I thought would translate to Captives, but what do I know), though for once our heroes are adults instead of partying teens (Train, Turistas). And also, ironically, doctors.
In fact my only real complaint about the film is that they don't really explore the idea that these folks are already risking their health to save others (sleep deprivation, increased risk of infection, etc), and yet when forced into doing it, they fight back. Nor do the guys taking the organs (as usual, a fairly benevolent doctor and a few merc types) ever seem to realize the irony. Not that beating us over the head with it would have been any more preferable, but still, it would have added an interesting layer to the film if they at least brought it up.
And one other one, but it's minor - can we all agree to stop with the "our hero is temporarily deaf so let's drop out all the sound except for a high pitched tone" sequences? I'm sure Saving Private Ryan wasn't the first, but ever since it's never been used as effectively anyway, and I fail to understand why you'd want to intentionally annoy an audience with that "sound". I get wanting us to be in their heads, but what's next? Putting people in the theater to cut us or smack us around? Actually, the Mann's 6 is showing Jackass with "D-Box" technology, so the latter is already a reality, I guess.
Otherwise it's a solid thriller, with several nail-biter scenes (they get a lot of mileage out of the lead character's fear of dogs - justified in an opening sequence that parents may not enjoy much) and some genuinely creepy looking villains. When they kidnap our heroes, they are wearing these sort of scarecrow masks, and they come out of nowhere at a moment of the film where you're not yet expecting the bad stuff to happen (I figured we had another 5 minutes). And they hide their motive for a while, which amused me because part of their MO is to strip the victims' vehicles - for a while I thought they were just the world's most aggressive chop shop employees.
I also liked the fact that it was French, because that meant it could end grimly for our heroine, if she even made it to the end at all. The first death in the group was a big surprise, and made for a nice "all bets are off" feeling (well, not a NICE one, but you know what I mean). And there was a great punchline to the obligatory would-be escape scene. This sequence also involved one of the more tension-packed moments of the film, as the doctor is checking his prisoners' heart rate, and the would-be escapee is trying to keep his pulse normal while hoping that the signs of his escape attempt won't be noticed by his captors. It's a terrific sequence.
I'm sick of writing the same thing at the end of all these reviews this week concerning their US release so allow me to just make something up: Caged will be released on 3000 screens next week in its original French language without subtitles. It will be followed by a 75 million dollar remake starring Amber Heard, Jimmy Fallon, and the old guy from Babe. The villains will all be played by CGI scarecrows, and the score will be composed by the guitarist from Creed (who will also perform the theme song "My Heart Is Caged (Captifs)". My friend Ken is in final negotiations to direct.
What say you?