Released: 7th May
Seen: 28th June
Delusional Misidentification Syndrome is a term that covers a large list of mental illnesses that have ended up being used in media. Very simply put, these disorders can cause people to believe that their loved ones have been replaced or that they themselves are dead or even that multiple people are actually the same person in disguise. That last one, known as the Fregoli delusion, seems to be the foundation for the film I’m reviewing today called Captive.
Captive follows a runaway teenage girl named Lily (Tori Kostic) who is on the run with her boyfriend but gets split up from him. She ends up stumbling upon a house in the middle of nowhere and stops to ask if she can use the phone to get back on her way. However the owner of the home, Evan (William Kircher) instantly believes that Lily is his long lost daughter and insists she stay. Soon, Lily finds herself stuck with this man who believes she’s his daughter and will do anything to make sure she doesn’t run away again… and that’s just the start of this weird little ride.
For the majority of Captive, it’s a two hander between Lily and Evan with a little back and forth where Lily tries to distract Evan long enough that she can escape, he catches her and punishes her in some form (either just sending her back to ‘her room’ or making her run for a long time on a treadmill) and the cycle continues with Lily trying more and more creative ways to go along with Evan’s delusion long enough that she can get out while Evan finds more and more ways to ensure that the woman he believes is his daughter can’t run away again. It creates this strange tension that’s terrifying and strangely sad.
The terror comes in bursts when Evan has a loud angry outburst and you realise that this guy is completely sincere in his belief that Lily is his daughter, and also just aggressive enough that he could do her some serious harm should anything shatter that belief (or even just because he felt like it, the character didn’t exactly give off ‘loving daddy’ vibes). It’s mixed well with this odd sadness that he clearly knows there is something wrong with him (as evidenced by scenes where Evan’s brother turns up) but doesn’t do anything to try and get better, if such a thing is possible.
Holding Captive together is this fascinating performance by Tori Kostic as Lily who manages to run from terrified to intelligent to… well, a strange acceptance of her circumstances that leads to a shocking climax that actually had me do a double take. No spoilers here but the more Captive goes on the more you see her almost embracing this life that’s been thrust upon her, and it’s almost more unnerving than anything that Evan does. By the time we finish, you just watch as this entire situation completely changes these two characters in devastating ways.
Even at 90 minutes long though, Captive does feel a little bit slow around the middle. Just when things are meant to be ramping up a lot and we’re seeing Lily’s repeated attempts to break out of this hell, things feel like they just get a lot slower and the tension lets up a little more than I’d like. You’re almost led to wanting to see this character fight her way out of the house she’s stuck in or wanting her to find some creative way to keep Evan out of her way long enough to get help and right smack in the middle is this zone where it’s easy to lose track of things.
Not helping are the flashback sequences which…. OK, I get that we’re meant to see that the real daughter and Lily look very similar but god damn it gets jarring at times, almost distractingly so. It all goes to this strange pace where the film will almost stop it’s momentum on a dime with something and then have to work to build back the tension to where it used to be.
For the most part though, Captive is a clever little thriller that makes the most out of what it has available. With a pair of compelling lead performances and a claustrophobic setting, it makes up for the little inconsistencies with a jaw dropper ending that feels well earned. If you’re looking for a good little indie thriller, Captive will fill that role nicely.