At the end of the day I really wanted to love “Kidnapped,” but the problem with Miguel Angel Vivas’ lengthy and dreary home invasion picture is that he sends out mixed messages and can never be sure where he wants to lead the audience. Sometimes our characters are merely horror movie cannon fodder to be bashed around and humiliated at a moment’s notice, and other times Vivas seems to really want to depict these characters as fleshed out human beings for the audience. And he fails at accomplishing both tasks. From minute one Vivas almost wants to show us this family bond that is lacking from the get go and never gives us a reason why we should quite care about these people.
The trio of family members being victimized almost never seem to like one another so it’s impossible for the audience to remotely empathize for them or their personal welfare at all. When the carnage begins we’re left wondering when and how they’ll die and that works against the effect Vivas is working toward when he wants us to empathize for the family. Most of the film is based around how hard the captors can make their victims suffer and it comes off mean spirited and like a snuff film where we’re left thinking how much more they can inflict pain on them. Until we’re met with even more resources to inflict horrific agony upon them. And then even more.
The skill and swift style is lost on “Kidnapped” because it lacks a flair to match the style that Vivas attempts to bring to the film. At times he zips through the house on one take or shows two scenarios on split screens with various carnage ensuing on both sides, but what’s lost is the humanity. All the characters do is blubber, and cry, and screech and scream and it’s grating more than sad. After a while the audience will be left hoping one of them will die and die quickly. Vivas seems to have all the know how in the world for a stylish movie, just not the premise to implement such style, thus the camera tricks and long pans feel out of place in a film where the kidnappers are essentially torturing their victims non-stop.
Not much is made out of “Kidnapped” once the ball gets rolling and by the finale Vivas seems to write himself in a corner with nowhere to go but down. And when the shit hits the fan, he goes down in the dumps with a climax that will inspire a few eye rolls and chuckles as opposed to shocks and awe. While director Miguel Angel Vivas brings a lot of style and originality to the way his thriller is shot, “Kidnapped” suffers from unlikable characters and an overkill in violence and brutality. It’s a rather unpleasant bit of home invasion horror and one that only certain audiences will respond to.