Monday 24 September 2018

100 Essential Films That Deserve More Attention - 13. Secuestrados

People embrace the enchanting glow of the big screen for all manner of reasons; to journey to faraway places they could only ever imagine, to experience the escapism of a captivating story, or maybe to indulge in an obsession with the world of cinema. For me, all three of these reasons apply - and many more - but first and foremost is the satisfaction of recommending obscure films to other like-minded individuals who adopt them as their new favourites.

With over 100 years worth of films to choose from, and many of these now available at the click of a button, it can be extremely difficult to narrow your choices down to pick a film to watch. Although cinema has been around for over four times longer than my life on this earth, I have spent what some may consider an unhealthy amount of these years delving into the history of films to discover some of the best hidden gems out there.

This series of articles aims to highlight the overlooked masterpieces that I have unearthed whilst exploring the forgotten recesses of cinema. Take a gamble on any one of these films and I guarantee that you will be eagerly awaiting all future instalments in this series. You may well have heard of a number of these films; my aim isn't merely to shine a spotlight on the most obscure films out there, but to share my enjoyment of those films which don't have the cult following I believe they deserve.

Director - Miguel Angel Vivas
Country - Spain
Year - 2010
Runtime - 85 Minutes

As everyone who has been following this series should know by now, I love nothing more than watching films that provoke powerful emotional reactions from the viewer; be it overwhelming sadness, sheer horror, or even utter disgust. Secuestrados is a rare beast that conjured up all of these feelings and more when I first saw it, and it has stayed with me ever since in the dark recesses of my celluloid memories. Far more than just a blistering assault on the senses, Secuestrados - or Kidnapped which is its English title, is a meticulously crafted work of technical prowess; a brutal horror film edited together from only twelve unbelievably realistic takes.

From the very first scene it is clear that this is no ordinary horror; the shocking brutality of the opening sequence shows the death of a character in a horrifically candid manner. This gives us an insight into the cruel nature of the attackers, who are clearly comfortable shedding the blood of others. The unfortunate family who are the latest victims of this callous cohort of murderous thieves have just moved into their new family home; a beautiful Spanish villa that we come to know intimately as the camera weaves its way through the hallways to capture every heart stopping moment of the break in. 

The tension rises even further when director Miguel Angel Visas uses split screen to provide the audience with two simultaneous viewpoints of the shocking events. We see the father’s frantic attempts to satisfy the criminal’s demands by taking as much money as he can from a cashpoint whilst being held at gunpoint, and his daughter’s upsetting attempts to pacify those keeping her hostage. It is unclear if the father will make it back in time to prevent the situation escalating, and the dual view of these shocking scenes ratchets the tension to almost unbearable levels.

With the action confined to twelve individual takes the camera is unable to cut away from the violence, and the audience is forced to participate as a voyeur throughout the relentless carnage. It is impressive how realistic these scenes of violence are and truly frightening to imagine being in a similar situation; under assault in that safest of places – your own home.

Although the surge in popularity of the home invasion flick was waning in 2010, this Spanish
masterpiece (yes - I'm going there) startled audiences with its raw, unflinching violence and stunning camerawork that placed the viewer uncomfortably up close to the stomach-churning depravity on show. Perhaps this is the reason why it failed to find a following, as Kidnapped is certainly not for the feint-hearted. How can you recommend a film with such abhorrent depictions of violence by criminals with no redeeming traits?

I recommend it to you now with caution; if The Strangers terrified you, The Last House on The Left shocked you to the core, and Eden Lake left you emotionally devastated then the experience of watching Kidnapped will be profoundly worse. If, however, the combination of extreme cinema with a masterful approach to the artistic sensibilities of the film-making process is something that appeals to you, then look no further, you might be about to stumble on your new favourite horror.

If you take the time to watch Secuestrados then it would be awesome if you could also take the time to let me know what you thought of it, either by commenting below or tweeting me @filmbantha. Thanks, and enjoy!

For previous instalments in the series click here

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