Capture Kill Release, 2016.
Directed by Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart.
Starring Jennifer Fraser, Farhang Ghajar, and Jon Gates.
A couple buy a camera and film themselves planning to murder a random stranger for the sexual thrill, but things don’t quite go to plan when one of them takes a more active role in the killing.
Nearly twenty years ago The Blair Witch Project very much set the tone for found-footage movies: natural lighting, non-pro actors using their real names, it felt grounded and genuine, like we were actually watching these atrocities unfold for real before our very eyes. Somewhere along the line though, something got lost in translation, and now the sub-genre feels noticeably worn and really rather spent. It would surely take something much cheaper, and more basic in its ambitions to really revive it the way the original Blair Witch, did all those years back. Something, oddly enough, like Capture Kill Release.
Made for what looks to be precisely nothing, with money only really being spent where it matters, and powered solely by two thoroughly authentic leads (each taking their own names), it’s a deeply involving and really quite vicious film that reaches out to an entirely different audience from the likes of Paranormal Activity, The Gallows and other recent found-footage mishaps. At times, it’s actually very troubling and uncomfortable to watch, because Capture Kill Release manages to tap into something that a lot of recent horror seems to have wavered from: real, tangible nastiness.
We follow Jennifer and Farhang, by all means an average American couple, very candidly as they go about planning a series of grisly murders, practising everything from how they’ll kidnaps their victims, to how they would dispose of the bodies, with hacksaws and blowtorches. And whilst a less-devoted film might leave things there, directors Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart really go the full hog, chronicling everything in blindingly grisly detail.
There are bigger budget slashers and torture porn devotees that would likely leave you less squeamish than this. McAnulty and Stewart splash their budget on some incredible looking gore effects that feel so real, it’s almost a surprise they’re yet to face the Deodato treatment, and be hauled in front of a court room to prove that they are in fact fake. Everything about this film feels palpable, and in a way, it makes for some of the realist horror imaginable.
Of course there is the occasional slip: a narrative jump that doesn’t quite match up or a scene that’s played out a little too long, and obviously the usual “film everything” mantra of the found-footage bible takes a bit of a logical kicking once in a while. But for the most part there’s something so resolutely pure about Capture Kill Release that it’s hard to turn away, even as limbs are being hacked apart and the blood letting only increases.
With hints of the original Blair Witch, V/H/S and oddly, Max Landis’s popular web short Jane L.A., this comes with an enthusiastic seal of approval for horror nuts and gore-hounds; basically anybody that seeks the most gripping in extreme cinema.
By keeping its rent low and ambitions firmly personal, Capture Kill Release unlocks something very honest, very straight-forward and very, very unsettling. This is what micro-budget horror is really about.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ben Robins / @BMLRobins