"Capture Kill Release"
review by Diablo Joe
Capture Kill Release
Anyone seeking a feel-good film to free themselves from the stresses of the current times won’t find much solace in “Capture Kill Release,” a found-footage-style film documenting a week in the lives of a young thrill-kill couple as they ramp up plans for their fantasy of murder. But if you are in the mood for a bracing, visceral, and tensely fearless picture, brilliantly acted by its cast and skillfully produced by all involved, then this may be the tonic you seek.
Jennifer and Farhang are intensely charismatic, intelligent, and articulate, but obsessed with perfecting their plan to pick a victim, kidnap them, kill them, and dispose of the body. They consider and discuss every detail, documenting every bit on video. They shop for the accouterment of their crime with the enthusiasm of new homeowners picking out home décor. And their planning even functions as foreplay. The scheme seems perfect until it actually becomes time to carry it out. At that point, a shift in enthusiasm for finally implementing the sadistic proposal becomes as nightmarish for one of them as it will be for their prey.
Much of the success of any “found footage” type film rests upon its actors' believability and leads Jennifer Fraser and Farhang Ghajar are absolutely convincing in their roles. The pair never seem mannered, artificial, or anything less than extemporaneous. The two receive writing credit along with Nick McAnulty, who also co-directed with Brian Allen Stewart. The scene where they debate who to consider as potential targets and who to exclude is horrifying. Farhang rules out women because he doesn’t want people inferring sexual overtones, and Jennifer insists on excluding the mentally disabled because she wants to make sure their victim fully understands the horror of what is happening. The fact that both leads are so good-looking, playful, and otherwise seemingly likable makes what follows all the more unsettling. Absent the sociopathy; these two would be a delight at any party, bar, or most any social encounter. The rest of the small, insular cast, especially Jonathan Gates, are equally natural and believable. We never question their authenticity.
A common bugaboo for found footage films is that often characters operating the camera seem to be doing so solely for the audience's benefit rather than a practical conceit. Stewart and McAnulty have skillfully crafted the scenario to avoid this. Jennifer and Farhang seek to document everything at all costs, and the presence of the camera never falls into question at any time. We share in its unflinching observation of everything that unfolds, and when things become messy (and they become gruesomely so), we are forced right into the event. These are front row seats to the mayhem. This matter-of-fact proxy brings to mind the discomforting voyeurism of Henry and Otis’s relentless torture of the family in “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer” (but without that film’s sexual predation).
The entire picture excels from a technical standpoint, as well. The film is beautifully shot, no easy feat when filmed in such a verité manner. Kudos to Stewart, credited as Director of Photography. “Capture Kill Release” benefits from some subtle but effective sound work by Graham Rogers. Choice use of incidental music adds to the film's overall mood and flow. And certainly not to be ignored are the ferociously realistic gore effects by Mitchell Stacey.
“Capture Kill Release” does struggle a bit with its resolution, but it’s the harrowing path that the film takes us through to get there that makes the film worth seeing. Stewart, McAnulty, Fraser, and Ghajar have been both confident and fearless in their artistic choices. Its concept raises it far above “torture porn,” though its sensibility may also mean that it is not a film for everyone. Its intelligence, acting, and quality of filmmaking will make it worth the while for those who chose to watch.
This devil of a reviewer gives “Capture Kill Release” 4 out of 5 imps
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