Fantasporto 2017 Review: UK Home Invasion Thriller CAUGHT
Julie and Andrew work out of home for a rural England newspaper. They cannot help but notice an increase in military personnel heading into a remote area out of town. There is something up in those woods and believe they can get a great scoop. That morning a mysterious couple, the Blairs, show up at their door. Julie and Andrew believe that they have been secretly sent by the military so they welcome them into their home. Perhaps they can gleam some information from this strange couple for their article.
Though the Blairs may seem a bit odd at first, with their rigid frames and broken English, Julie and Andrew humor them until things take a terrifying turn for worse. They find themselves prisoners in their own home, held captive by a couple who are from somewhere, a long way outside of town.
For a home invasion film Caught is admittedly light on action until story tips with a stunning act of violence that gets the proverbial ball rolling. Still, from thereon it is only heavy on mood, tension and atmosphere with the menacing Blairs taking control of the home. This leaves Julie and Andrew in a state of absolute desperation to find out what it is they want and protect their young family.
A well regarded U.S. president once wrote in a letter that he was fond of the West African proverb "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." In the patriarchal relationship Mr. Blair (Nina Forever’s Cian Berry) is the one who speaks softly. Yet, he is verbally dominant, by stance, a steely glare and gripping emotional manipulation he controls the room. To counter his emotional presence Mrs. Blair (Skin’s April Pearson) is the stick and immediately establishes herself by physical dominance, laying some hurt on Andrew. Pearson does an excellent job in the scant action scenes and in her character's physical deterioration as the story progresses and their true origin is discovered.
What Caught may lack in action it makes up for with makeup effects work by Colin J. Smith (Prevenge and Tank 432). When we begin to question the Blair’s origin arise, Mrs. drools this pink and viscous drool all over Andrew. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together Further into the film she begins to deteriorate, eventually followed by Mr. Blair, Smith’s skill and expertise bring the final face off (almost literally) at the end of the film
The biggest hurdle with Caught comes down to Moritz Schmittat’s score. The arrangement is so much bigger than the film its backing that it becomes overwhelming. It feels mismatched with the energy that it is playing for in any scene. For example, early in the film when Mr. Blair takes Julie upstairs to attend to her infant daughter we cannot tell what is louder, their infant daughter’s screams or the musical score. Mr. Blair menaces about the child’s screams but you can barely make out what he is saying because of the score’s crescendo far exceeds what should be an intimately terrifying scene.
Caught feels like it was written to be a quiet and terrifying home invasion thriller but some miscues with the score distract from that tension and do the film a disservice. Otherwise the performances by Berry and Pearson are worthy of noting; one for his quiet menace and the other for her physical dominance. Caught is a decent entry into the home invasion genre, offering up a slight twist to the invaders that takes on a more literal sense as the film progresses. Other than that it does little to separate it from the pack, offering up adequate menace and not enough thrills.
(Caught had its World Premiere at the Fantasporto Int’l Film Festival in Portugal on Tuesday, February 28th.)