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24. KIDNAPPED

Director: Miguel Angel Vivas
Stars: Manuella Velles, Fernando Cayo, Ana Wagener, Xoel Yanez
It’s a good thing that Spanish filmmaker Miguel Angel Vivas’ home invasion horror/thriller Kidnapped is barely 90 minutes long—one can only withstand so much emotional punishment before hyperventilating. Lean and incredibly mean, Kidnapped is a cinematic endurance test, presenting a run-of-the-mill, Funny Games-like setup with technical prowess and uncompromisingly bleak developments. Vivas shot the film with only 12 single-take sequences, giving Kidnapped an in-your-face immediacy that heightens the brutality on display. And, damn, is it brutal.

After a brief prologue in which Vivas’ single-take approach stages a guy’s run-in with a speeding car as if Vivas himself took a fender off the chest, Kidnapped storms into a night from Lucifer’s playground for a husband/wife pair, along with their teenage daughter. Three masked goons break into their new home, tie them up, and attempt to drain the fam of its finances, but, in typical foreign horror fashion, the plan devolves into follies such as a man’s face being smashed in, an enthralling split-screen sequence involving a boyfriend kissing a gun’s barrel, and one of the darkest, gut-kicking endings in recent memory.

At times, Kidnapped falls victim to Vivas’ overzealousness with technique, particularly through a late-game use of split-screen that’s more distracting than immersive. But the whole experience is so unrelentingly visceral that the film’s downsides are secondary; the viewers’ senses are battered in too much to care about flaws.

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