Captivity (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roland Joffé
Produced by Mark Damon
Courtney Solomon
Gary Mehlman
Sergei Konov
Leonid Minkovski
Screenplay by Larry Cohen
Joseph Tura
Story by Larry Cohen
Starring Elisha Cuthbert
Daniel Gillies
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Daniel C. Pearl
Edited by Richard Nord
Foresight Unlimited
Russian American Movie Company
Distributed by Lionsgate
After Dark Films
Freestyle Releasing[1]
Release dates
  • 13 July 2007 (2007-07-13)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $10,921,200

Captivity is a 2007 horror thriller film directed by Roland Joffé, based on a screenplay by Larry Cohen and Joseph Tura, and starring Elisha Cuthbert. The film centers on two people who have been abducted and driven mad.


A young man is being tortured. Two tubes are inserted into his nose, and truck battery acid is pumped in through one pipe, causing blood to pour out through the other. The man's captor then kills him with a large hammer.

Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert), a young fashion model and cover girl, had captured the attention of photographers and for better or worse, the public at large. On an evening out alone, Jennifer is stalked and drugged. She wakes in a stupor to find herself captive and confined to a cell. A series of metal bins and numbered lockers abruptly swing open in front of her. They contain personal items taken from her apartment. She is forced to view videotapes containing images of the victims who were tortured previous to her captivity, as well as videotaped interviews she had given to the media in the past. Realizing there is no way out, Jennifer pleads and screams to anyone who might hear her.

During her confinement, she is subjected to various forms of psychological torture. Jennifer eventually finds she is not alone. A young man, Gary (Daniel Gillies), is being held captive in an adjoining cell. The two make contact and try to find out why they are being held. After watching the horrific scene, they find their way out. They both make it to a garage where they find a car. As soon as they are about to start it, a gas erupts in the car making them both unconscious. They find themselves back in their cells where Jennifer sees a tape of Gary being taken and tied to a chair with a gun held under his chin. After a while of Jennifer worrying, she sees Gary being thrown into his cell. She rushes to him and helps him. After having consensual sex, Gary awakens to find Jennifer, who has been drugged once again. He takes out a key to an adjoining cell.

After Gary awakens he discovers Jennifer had drunk a bottle of water that had a drug in it to put her to sleep. He then gets up to wipe the blood off his nose, while he's leaving he makes sure Jennifer is sound asleep before leaving the cell. Gary's key opens a door into a house, revealing that Gary and his older brother Ben are actually the captors. Gary joins Ben in the kitchen where they make sushi. Gary tells Ben that he is falling in love with Jennifer. Ben then puts something in the fridge. When he turns around, Gary stabs him. Gary then watches the same tape of the woman lying on the bed that was shown earlier. The boy stabbing his mother is revealed to have been Gary looking at a smirking Ben. After the tape, Gary is seen reviewing a series of pictures in an album, and then there is a knock at the door. At the sound of knocks, he rushes to put the albums in a cabinet.

He slams the cabinet's door, but it does not fully close. The knockers at the door are two detectives looking for Ben. Gary tells them that his brother is not at home. The detectives enter the house, get comfortable, and ask to watch a big sports game on television. One of them flips the channel to the surveillance video of Jennifer sleeping. Seeing this, Gary shoots them both. He runs down to where Jennifer is being held and tells her that he has killed them and that it is time to go. He places Jennifer in a room and tells her not to go. One of the detectives, not dead after all, jumps out at her but she kills him with a bat, believing him to be one of her captors. Jennifer then discovers the partially open cabinet and begins viewing the albums. Gary is in all of them. While she looks through the albums, Ben, also not yet dead, jumps out at her. However, Jennifer finishes him off by stabbing the knife more deeply into him.

After viewing the albums, Jennifer hears the detective's pager ring and she goes through his personal belongings. Gary records Jennifer, who claims she belongs to him and will help him clean up the mess. She tricks him and sprays ammonia in his eyes before running off. On her way, she cuts a series of wires and electrical cords, which prevents doors, code entries and lights from working. Jennifer picks up a flashlight and the gun used on the detectives. She points the flashlight at the opposite wall through a poster of her, distracting Gary. Jennifer then goes through the door and points the gun at Gary. Gary then tries to persuade her to put the gun down. When its clear she won't, he lunges toward her with a pocket knife and she shoots him. Gary falls back and tries to lunge again but she shoots him a second time and he falls back on the bed. Gary whispers to her while gasping for air. Jennifer shoots at her poster which covered a window leading outside. She drops the gun and walks outside then down the street.


Advertising controversy

Several controversial images depicting promotional scenes from the film were released by After Dark Films in Los Angeles and New York where they were shown on billboards and taxicabs. The advertisement consisted of pictures involving the kidnapping, torture, and presumable murder of a female character. Offended witnesses soon filed complaints to After Dark, who claimed error and explained that the concept was only one of several working ideas that were being considered for marketing to the general public. According to executive producer Courtney Solomon, who spoke on behalf of After Dark, it was not supposed to have been approved; he followed by saying "To be honest with you, I don't know where the confusion happened and who's responsible."[2]

"This film was done in association with After Dark Films. The nature of the association allows After Dark autonomy over their marketing materials, and therefore we neither saw nor approved this billboard before it was posted," said Peter Wilkes, head of Lionsgate investor relations. "Once aware of the materials and the reaction to them, we immediately asked After Dark to remove the billboards, to which they immediately and cooperatively responded."

Joss Whedon has become the public face of a movement directed at the MPAA to remove the film's rating, in accordance with MPAA guidelines that state that any film that uses advertising that has not been approved by the MPAA (in this case, the advertising was specifically disapproved) will possibly forfeit their right to be rated. According to writer Jill Soloway, who runs the website Remove the Rating, Solomon himself was responsible for the ads in question, going over the design in extreme detail, and is thus being disingenuous in the above-cited quote.[3] The MPAA issued a ruling dated 28 March 2007, which said that, as punishment, it would not consider rating the film until at least 30 April, making the release date of 18 May less likely (releasing the film "unrated" would greatly impact its potential to sell tickets). The MPAA is also, in an unprecedented move, requiring that they approve the placement of all forthcoming advertisements for the film.[4]

Dramatic editing

After Dark Films founder and present head Courtney Solomon went back to edit the original concept of Captivity to add more gore and violence to please the American audience. In a statement, Solomon is believed to state that he felt the film was not gruesome enough for a mainstream "torture porn".[5] Although he felt the change would bring in more money for the film after noticing the success of Hostel, the film tanked at the box office. Solomon later released a statement saying "It's overkill, I think audiences have said, 'I've had enough.' It's as simple as that."[6] The original version of Captivity was only released in Spain, Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Alternative ending

In an alternative ending, present on the DVD, one year later, a man is captured and tortured, before being killed with a hammer (this is the event we see at the beginning of the movie). The man is revealed (through press clippings) to be a three-time murderer of women; his assailant is revealed to be Jennifer.


Critical reception

Captivity opened on Friday, 13 July 2007 to negative reviews. Online critic James Berardinelli gave it a zero star rating, stating that there is "nothing redeemable here. It's not tense or scary; it's just demented".[7] named the film as the "worst horror film of 2007".[8] Also, many reviewers have noted similarities to films like Saw and Hostel. The movie currently holds a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 77 reviews.

Elisha Cuthbert's performance received mixed reviews, resulted in her gaining nominations for both a Teen Choice Award and a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. It also earned Razzie nominations for Worst Director and Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie, but lost both to I Know Who Killed Me.

Box office

The film grossed $1,429,100 in its opening weekend, placing it at No. 12 at the US box office.[9] By the end of its run, the film had grossed $10,921,200.[10]

Golden Raspberry nominations

The film was nominated for 3 Razzie awards, but all lost to I Know Who Killed Me.

Worst Actress (Elisha Cuthbert)

Worst Director (Roland Joffé)

Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie


The DVD was released on 30 October 2007 with a widescreen unrated version, and the original R-rated version. It includes a making-of featurette and an on-the-set look of the film. The cover has the 8 Films to Die For logo on it, despite the film not being present for the limited release film festival.

There was also a special two-disc edition, which had a metal keep case with fine sand on the front cover beneath a plastic layer depicting Cuthbert in relief print beneath it, just as in a scene from the film.


Captivity's main theme music is an homage to John Carpenter's Halloween theme.[citation needed]


  2. Lopex, Steve (18 March 2007). "Billboard's 'Captivity' audience disgusted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 March 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  3. "Remove the Rating". Huffington Post. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "MPAA places sanctions on horror film 'Captivity'". Los Angeles Times. 30 March 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  5. ‘Captivity’ promises to be a feminist dream
  6. torture porn, the tanking of ‘Captivity,’ and the dooming of ‘Sunshine’?
  7. Review: Captivity
  8. BD Horror News – BC's Top 10 Best & Worst List of 2007!
  9. "Captivity". Box Office Mojo.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Captivity at Box Office Mojo

External links