CAPTIVE is a psychological thriller with a kidnapping plot. This is not a horror film, but it does have elements of pure horror. Definitely worth checking out if you like psychological thrillers. Read our full Captive movie review here!

In the summer of 1988, the glam metal band Cinderella released their single, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”, and, when listening to that song, most of us probably think of what we took for granted and moments we should have appreciated more.

But what if what we “got” was much worse?

CAPTIVE is a new kidnapping thriller and below is our full movie review.

Captive [2021] – Thriller Review

Lily becomes Katherine in Captive

Captive (originally Katherine’s Lullaby) opens with Lily (Tori Kostic) and her boyfriend Neil (Jairus Carey) camping in the woods in Wrightwood, California (i.e., a couple of hours northeast of Los Angeles).

Flashbacks reveal that Lily suffered from an abusive relationship with her alcoholic stepfather (David Lee Hess), one from which she may be fleeing.

When Lily and Neil get separated, Lily runs for help and comes across a (stunning) mountain home (possibly one of these homes), inhabited by Evan (William Kircher).

Evan is thrilled with Lily’s “return,” as Lily begins to realize that Evan believes Lily to be his missing daughter, Katherine (Meghan Hanako). In an attempt to escape, so as to not be trapped in Evan’s basement, Lily concedes to Evan’s delusions, referring to Evan as “daddy,” embracing life as “Katherine,” informed by Lily’s discovery of Katherine’s diary.

Captive [2021] – Thriller Review

Lily’s attempts to escape repeatedly fail, given Evan’s helicopter parenting, insisting that “Katherine” continue to train for and win the road-races at which he failed to succeed in his younger years.

Ultimately, Lily accepts the unhealthy parent-as-coach relationship, training harder, hoping that “getting faster” will facilitate her escape. Yet, as Lily embodies “Katherine”, the past and present collide, leaving viewers to question how “captive” Lily actually is.

A psychological thriller, not horror

Written and directed by Savvas Christou, Captive is not a horror film, even though certain scenes reminded me of House at the End of the Street. Much like Max Thieriot’s Ryan in the 2012 Jennifer Lawrence film, Evan’s grief due to Katherine’s missingness seems to have induced a psychotic break, leaving him to “see” Lily as Katherine.

Accordingly, in place of gore and traditional jump-scares, Christou’s film as a psychological thriller is very much reminiscent of several episodes of Criminal Minds (albeit without the FBI), laced with the philosophical, existential questions that characterize Gone Baby Gone (albeit without the Boston police).

Captive’s greatest strength is the psychology of the relationship between Evan and Lily/”Katherine”. Despite the film beginning quite choppily with poor pacing, the father-“daughter” dynamic may strike chords within those who have (or had) tense relationships with parents who forced an unwanted life upon their childhood.

Unfortunately, despite this well-laid foundation, an excellent performance from Kircher, and a good performance from Kostic, their chemistry felt forced beyond the nature of the story they were conveying, potentially leaving viewers slightly unsatisfied as the film concludes.

Watch Captive on demand on YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime

To my understanding, Captive is on the film festival circuit but can be viewed on demand for $7 USD on a variety of sites.

While Christou’s Captive begins as a standard kidnapped-prisoner film, its final scenes do well to reinforce the interesting psychology between Evan and Lily. However, despite impressive performances and an interesting twist, the actors’ overly forced chemistry and some derivative storytelling earned Captive 3 of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Stream it, but wait until it’s available for under $4 USD

CAPTIVE is out on VOD now in the US and Canada.

Details

Director: Savvas Christou
Writer: Savvas Christou
Stars: William Kircher, Tori Kostic, Jolene Andersen, Meghan Hanako, Jairus Carey, Chris Barry, David Lee Hess

Plot

A teenage runaway who’s trapped by a delusional man, pretends to be his daughter in order to escape.

Cognitive neuroscientist by day, avid horror fan by night, I began writing reviews/recaps for Heaven of Horror in March 2019. I have a particular affinity to found-footage horror, but I truly love all horror subgenres. As a diagnosed sufferer of obsessive-compulsive disorder, horror movies help relieve my anxieties (and apparently, there's some science to support that). My favorite horror films/shows include Let the Right One In, Hell House LLC, Host, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, The Babysitter, The Haunting of Hill House, and so many more. I'm very particular about a film's originality when I write reviews, and I hope to steer y'all in the right directions when it comes to which movies to stream versus skip. Happy viewing!