Capture Kill Release is 2017’s entry into found footage romance horror. That’s a thing, right? It’s a bit splatter-y, it’s a bit slasher-y, and it’s also a bit commitment-y so there’s something here to get under almost anyone’s skin. If you’re willing to suspend some disbelief about the situation these characters are in, there’s some meaty stuff here to discuss. You’ll get why that’s a joke later. Check out the our podcast discussion of the movie, the movie’s trailer below, and my spoiler-filled lowdown if any of this strikes your fancy.
Reviewed by: Mark
Okay as I said before, here there be spoilers. You’ve been warned. CKR opens by introducing us to the two main characters: Jenn and Farhang. They’re a married couple that want to spend more time together. Here’s the thing, though: Jenn is a goddamn fucking lunatic who wants to kill people to death in their basement. She has this whole monologue about how she wants the victim to be aware of what is happening to them and all that. Real choice level fucked up shit… but I guess it makes her happy so Farhang goes with it.
After they go through their various selection processes (which, PSA, involve killing a cat) there’s a bit of… well, let’s call it a miscommunication. Jenn invites and poisons-but-says-she-doesn’t-poison a happy go lucky homeless guy named Gary that she met on the street. Farhang gets home at the point where it’s essentially too difficult to turn the ship around so they kill the guy in their basement and then dismember him in their bathtub. It’s too bad, too. We liked Gary.
Farhang was not down with that shit. You get the sense that he only stuck around because he was pretty sure this was all supposed to be hypothetical, but the movie never really fleshes that out. He and Jenn continue to grow apart as she insists that they keep filming everything. The whole movie culminates in Jenn going wildly off-script once again and kidnapping two schlemiels that she had an earlier run in with. After killing the first one, her and Farhang struggle over the hammer and she accidentally hits herself hard enough with it to cave her own skull in. It made about as much sense on screen as that sentence just did. The movie ends with a monologue from Farhang as the united Canadian Emergency Authorities come to the scene.
What the Movie Does Right
One of this movie’s strengths is definitely the acting jobs displayed by the 2.5 main characters. I’m including Gary the lovable hobo as a half character here because he’s only on-screen for a fraction of time compared to the other two but still does a bang up job. With these tight fishbowl-esque found footage movies you really have to have actors who can portray their characters and, with the exception of a few minor scenes, Jenn and Farhang (that’s their actual real-life names too) really kill it. Get it? Kill it. Like they did well but they’re also murders? Man I’m good at this writing thing.
Another thing to note is that this movie has some of the better blood-and-guts effects you’ll see this year. There’s a scene where they have to dismember a body in their bathtub using a sawzall and the blood spray and miscellaneous viscera are on point… at least I assume it’s on point. I don’t really have a good point of reference. All that being said it seems like the special effects were all done by a single person, which is bordering on unfathomable.
For as unbelievable as the movie’s plot as a whole is (more on that a little bit later) it does have some clever plot elements to it. The mixture of the two different cameras provides some interesting texture to the found footage, and they work it in pretty effortlessly into the storyline. Also, there’s a bit of a Chekhov's hammer that you don’t see coming until the very end. I’m not saying that the plot is unpredictable, but at least the writers included a call-back to an earlier scene to make the film world a little bit more fleshed out.
What the Movie Does Wrong
I’m going to start this section by discussing the name of the movie. Seriously, where did this title come from? Not only is the phrase “Capture, Kill, Release” nonsensical because you can’t release that which has been killed, but also it applies in almost no way to the film. I mean, yeah, I guess they are capturing and killing these victims, but they aren’t so much releasing them as they are burying them in a remote forest. Also if you’re going to have a movie that abbreviates to CKR, aren’t you just inviting comparisons to other similar yet more superior three letter acronyms?
The movie also suffers quite a bit from the believability of the whole situation. Frankly, I was willing to suspend my disbelief significantly more than the other two jabronis on this website. They just tore this thing to pieces, and while I can give the movie a little bit of the benefit of the doubt it is pretty obvious that this situation isn’t as likely as the movie makes it seem. Even if you are deeply in love with someone I still don’t think you’d go that extra mile to kill a hobo for them.
Lastly, but certainly not least: the movie has some pretty glaring plot holes. In my opinion plot holes are really only egregious if they specifically contradict the rules of the movie universe that were explicitly stated elsewhere in the movie with no other justification. One particular plot hole has Jenn commenting early in the movie about how hard it is to move unconscious people. Later she miraculously teleports two victims into her basement from a completely different house after tasering them. See, the fact that that’s not how tasers work isn’t that bad a plot hole because they didn’t have a scene explaining how tasers work. That’s fine if slightly irksome. The issue here is that the script writers specifically went out of their way to comment on literal “dead weight,” and then completely forgot about roughly 5 minutes later. That’s bad.
Story: 5 - The story is unique but it’s not really fleshed out. I guess you can just say that Jenn is crazy, but still most of the decisions she makes don’t exactly make sense. It’s also not every day that you stumble upon a plot hole as egregious as the one I talked about above. Let’s be real here, you aren’t about to watch this movie because of its story.
World-Building / Immersion: 7 - This is a surprisingly immersive movie. Now I’m on record saying that found footage movies really do it for me, particularly in the immersion category, so I’ll admit that this is probably getting upwardly adjusted just for the virtue of being a found footage flick. Beyond that, though, I’m gonna bring the acting back up. It’s not just not bad, it’s good enough to fully bring you in even if the plot is a little unfocused.
Scare-Factor: 4 - It’s not a particularly scary movie. I guess on the theoretical level it’s a bit creepy to imagine that your neighbors could be plotting to kill random people and dump them in the woods, but the general unbelievability of the plot makes that exercise pretty shallow. That’s also not exactly a novel concept in horror. If you are weirded out by gore then you might want to increase this rating a bit.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 6 - See the last sentence for the commentary on the gore. For the most part this movie is in the “judicious lack thereof” movie, except for two or three scenes that really go balls to the wall. I think it’s fair to say the effects look good in this movie, but they’re almost completely contained within a few scenes. Also, people don’t foam at the mouth if you inject cleaning fluid into their neck. That’s just flat out incorrect.
Overall: 4.5 - I could realistically see various people giving this movie anywhere between a 2 and a 7. This is probably going to divide people on how it hits them based purely on the premise. Also I’m pretty sure my wife would dock this a full 2-3 points just for them killing a cat. Overall though, I feel like the main limitation of this movie is its general lack of purpose. There’s not much character development, and it’s essentially just a poorly formulated mock documentary about a girl with a killin-people fetish.