Winner of the Best Picture and Best Director awards at Fantastic Fest 2010.
Home invasion movies are nothing new. In fact, the idea of criminals invading suburban homes has been run into the ground. However, as is the case with many genres, a film occasionally comes along that pumps some fresh blood into a a very familiar formula. Miguel Ángel Vivas' KIDNAPPED (Secuestrados) is a good example.
Jaime (Fernando Cayo) and Marta (Ana Wagener) are a middle-aged couple with a teenage daughter named Isa (Manuela Vellés). The family is in the process of moving into a big new house. Marta wants to gather the family for dinner at home to celebrate. Isa has her own plans; she wants to go out with her boyfriend. Jaime is stuck in the middle of it all. Everyone's evening is ruined when a gang of masked hoodlums pays a visit to the home.
KIDNAPPED, which was written by Vivas with Javier García, adheres to some expectations for this type of film while deviating in both subtle and significant ways. Part of what makes KIDNAPPED stand out is its choices in character development and plot. The identities of the characters isn't necessarily mysterious. Neither are their motives. The real focus here is on the family. KIDNAPPED develops a conflict-driven dynamic between Jaime, Marta, and Isa. Marta believes Jaime undermines her authority. Jaime isn't so concerned about it. This is just how teenagers act, he thinks. When the crooks barge into the house (and the narrative), the time spent with the family pays off. The story forks off into two directions after the father is separated the others. The narrative switches back and forth between the father's dilemma and that of his wife and daughter. The split mirrors the familial relationship. The women squabble, which effects how the kidnappers deal with them. The father — who is stuck in his own kind of hell — has no idea of the ugliness that is occurring at home.
The film is shot in a documentary style with handheld video cameras. Once again, this shooting style is nothing new, but KIDNAPPED manages to add a fresh spin on it. Instead of just running around, Miguel Ángel Vivas and DP Pedro J. Márquez aren't afraid to nail it down the camera. When they do, they create some very disquieting and uncomfortable moments. Tight editing and some other slick visual surprises elevate the suspense and tension to another level. (Fantastic Fest 2010)