Capture Kill Release review
Following an award winning run on the horror festival circuit last year, Capture Kill Release arrives on DVD in the UK this week, although VHS may have been a more appropriate format for this grisly, yet utterly compelling addition to the found footage subgenre.
The setup is sleek, simple, and efficient: a cute young suburban couple, Jen and Farhang (Jennifer Fraser and Farhang Ghajar) are planning to commit a murder, and she wants to document the whole thing – the careful planning, choosing the victim, the murder itself, and the disposal – so they can watch it back later. Pretty sick huh? But they’re just so damn nice, you can’t help but like them. Jen is a giddy ball of energy, getting all excited at the hardware store as they pick what saws, axes, and hammers they are going to use. Farhang is a bit more chilled out, reminding her whilst they are there they also need a caulking gun to fix the windows at home.
Jet-black humour runs through Nick McAnulty’s script, adding further layers to the disturbing nature of the film. As they nonchalantly discuss acts of horrific sadism, the natural domesticity of Jen and Farhang lends a detached irreverence to the early scenes. The conversation in the car, with Farhang talking about why he doesn’t want to kill a woman, someone from an ethnic minority, or a gay man, is bleakly hilarious.
Fulfilling the requirement of the genre, they film everything, documenting their sick deeds with a digital camera. Fundamental to the success of the film is that it retains a sense of naturalism throughout. There are no stylistic edits or impossible camera angles. This looks, feels, and sounds like a legit home movie, a feeling enhanced by the interspersed scenes of them just chatting and being a “normal” couple. It’s a fun and new approach to the hoary old found footage genre, and ultimately gives us a film that plays like a strange genre mashup of gonzo horror and domestic drama, with a delicate sprinkling of sadistic violence. The film is as much about Jen and Farhang, and the shifting dynamics of their complex relationship, as it is the inevitable blood bath, and it is all the richer for it.
The directors (Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart) fundamentally understand the potential and limitations of their chosen genre, and exploit it to the max. In the same way as Oren Peli utilised the stillness of the static camera to elicit the scares in Paranormal Activity, here McAnulty and Stewart use the intrusiveness of the handheld camera to heighten the emotions and fracturing relationship at the centre of the film. The switch from clean digital to scratchy, grainy video in the final act perfectly reflects what is happening on screen.
Hogtying the whole thing together with industrial strength rope is the central relationship. This is the absolute critical ingredient to the success of Capture Kill Release, and Jennifer Fraser and Farhang Ghajar are both fantastic in their roles. Natural and believable, their seemingly effortless chemistry makes these characters engaging and likeable. It would have been so easy for these to be characters you despise, but thanks to the great writing and excellent performances, they come across as a funny, sweet couple, who you’d be quite happy to live next door to. Well…you know…apart from the whole psychopathic urges to commit murder. But hey, so long as they keep the noise down.