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Film Review: '#Captured'

Irresponsible teens find themselves at a religious maniac's mercy in this obnoxious found footage thriller.

Fresh at a new school, following an ill-advised affair with her soccer coach, Ashley (Lizze Gordon) is surprised to find herself quickly pulled into a popular social circle at the school. Initially, unbeknownst to Ashley, her friends all are a part of an illicit web cam show, where they do drugs and have sex, all for their paying viewers to watch. With one of their friends Nicole (Cody Renee Cameron) having disappeared after what was believed to be a staged cam show that ended with her being murdered, the teens are looking to recruit Ashley to join them in their debaucherous online activities.

But unbeknownst to the teens, an unnamed killer (Sam Cain) has been watching them and has more than a little contempt for their morally questionable behaviors. A religious fanatic determined to rid the world of sin, the man plans to put a permanent end to the teens through violent means. While Ashley ultimately rejects her friends' offer to let her join their web cam shows, her past still finds her in the crosshairs of a man obsessed with ridding the Internet of sin—one murder at a time.

<Sighs> Once again, I have decided, against all logic, to take it upon myself to review a movie so horrifically botched that I feel an almost civic duty to warn others about it. While #Captured might not be as soul crushingly bleak as Deadly Attraction, it ranks alongside it in how much it makes you want to rip out chunks of your flesh to alleviate how aggravating its' main villain is. But in this film's case, the annoyance doesn't just stop at the film's unnamed (and for the most part, unseen) antagonist, but also spreads out into the crop of self-centered, reckless, and thoughtless teens we follow for much of the film.

This ultimately proves to be the overarching problem with #Captured: almost the entire cast is thoroughly impossible to like, making it hard for the viewers to care about any of them or about anything that happens over the course of the film. The closest thing the film has to a likable protagonist is Ashley, and even she has her moments of grating teenage brattiness. Stuck with characters that have all the dimension and appeal of wet newspaper lathered in mud, it's hard to even tell the acting aptitude of much of this film's main stars; aside from a few scenes that attempt at emotional weight (a notable example coming from Evan Sloan, as his character is tormented by the killer into an attempted repentance), there's not much there that I could see any actor being able to work with.

The worst cast of this, however, comes in the form of Sam Cain's portrayal of the film's main antagonist. On paper, his character would seem one suited for a schlocky low-budget slasher film; a murderous and somewhat arrogant religious zealot intent on making a group of teens pay for behavior he deems sinful and worthy of death. Unfortunately for both, the film and its' viewers, #Captured makes the fatal error of giving its antagonist a horrific amount of dialogue—none of which is pleasant to listen to for several minutes at a time. It doesn't help that Cain delivers this dialogue in a nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating tone, which may lead some viewers scrambling for the Mute button whenever he begins one of his self-aggrandizing rants. Had Cain's dialogue been trimmed down and used to establish his motivation before he becomes a silent killing machine a-la Michael Myers, #Captured might have had a chance of at least presenting a strong villain and transformed itself into a solid "Root for the Killer" slasher flick. But as is, #Captured's villain only further cements this movie as damn near unwatchable.

#Captured is not without good points, however small they may be. Lizze Gordon (who also served as a writer for the film) makes for a likable and ultimately sympathetic protagonist—thus being the only character to achieve that status—and seeing that she has more projects coming up according to IMDB, I can see her improving and coming out with something that will make for a good watch. The screencast premise might prove interesting to those willing to forgive the film for its weak plot and characters, and there are some ideas floating around the story (such as one of the unlikable teens turning out to be a heavily closeted homosexual) that could've made for some good character development had they not been dropped without further exploration. 

Ultimately, though, #Captured is an annoying dud that deserves to be #forgotten.

Score: 2 out of 10 corpse Snapchat filters. 

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Film Review: '#Captured'
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