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“Kidnapped,” Reviewed

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

A hallmark of Spanish horror in recent years has been the long take, something that’s been perfected by the disciples of Guillermo del Toro like “The Orphanage”‘s Juan Antonio Bayona and “Julia’s Eyes”‘s Guillem Morales and the filmmakers behind shockers like “[REC].” Of course, slow burns have always been part of the genre, but the lack of cutaways feel particularly disconcerting to an increasing ADD generation and have been used to convey a reality to the terrifying creep of zombies, ghosts and other monsters of the night. Strangely, the trend towards unflinching takes has largely ignored the horror potential of actual reality, something that writer/director Miguel Ángel Vivas appears to be well aware in his arresting sophomore feature.

I wasn’t counting, but I’d be surprised to learn if there were more than 50 cuts in “Kidnapped,” Vivas’ 86-minute endurance test about the home invasion of a well-to-do family who just moved into their new home in the Madrid suburbs. “Kidnapped” (or as the subtitles reveal its original title “Hostages”) doesn’t stray far from the formula one has come to expect of such films, save for a blistering opening sequence that shows the aftermath for a previous victim. There are three thieves, dressed in black, and a family of three, whose only conflict appears to be that their 18-year-old daughter Isa (Manuela Vellés) wants to go out with her boyfriend instead of partaking in a housewarming dinner. She is halfway out the door when the burglars burst through a glass window on the side of the house and proceed to tie up the women and dispatch one man to take the family’s patriarch Jaime (Fernando Cayo) out to collect money from various ATMs.

Whereas most filmmakers would derive their tension from the unknown, Vivas divides the screen into two as Jaime drives around the city to empty out his bank accounts and Isa and her mother Marta (Ana Wagener) are tortured by the two thieves who are waiting for Jaime to return. One can see the fear and uncertainty in Jaime’s eyes as he suspects the worst and Vivas simultaneously shows the audiences that what is actually happening to Jaime’s wife and daughter isn’t too far off. The split-screen is really the only concession Vivas seems willing to make to break the reality he’s constructed, not partaking in the darkly comic sense of humor or reaction shots for the usual pockets of relief. Sometimes the camera is trained on the floor or a shelf with family pictures on it as the echo of conversations trickle in the background, but for the most part in “Kidnapped,” the more you know, the more you clench your teeth.

Ironically, you don’t notice what “Kidnapped” is missing until well after it’s over – the characters, bad and good, all radiate an intelligence about what they’re doing that masks the fact they’re mostly variations on types we’ve seen many times before, the film is based in real time, but doesn’t work against a ticking clock, and up until the climax, much of its violence is inflicted psychologically rather than physically. Although I was mildly disappointed in the film’s ending, not because it betrays the spirit of what came before, but its tidiness wasn’t particularly satisfying, “Kidnapped” is such a display of muscular filmmaking that its shortcomings as a sophisticated drama will just have to cede to its impressiveness as a taut thriller. (The film’s brutality also raises the questions about audience complicity that Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” was intended to address without the wink; the idea that “Kidnapped” was made as an exposé of the very real problem of home invasions in Spain seems a bit opportunistic at best.)

As I overheard when the audience staggered out of the screening I saw, when someone heard his friend hadn’t made it into see “Kidnapped,” he didn’t even ask what he saw in its place, simply patting him on the shoulder and saying, “then you saw the wrong film.”

“Kidnapped” does not yet have U.S. distribution.


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.