You just don't expect the found-footage sub-genre to surprise you anymore. Having seemingly covered every bit of ground in horror you can imagine, there isn't much room left for something truly original or refreshing. Yeah, sure, I may sound jaded; but can you really blame me? And no, this isn't me leading you into a "that is, until now" kind of moment as it pertains to this review of 'Capture Kill Release'; a found-footage entry which isn't particularly original, what with its inspirational cues coming by way of genre forerunner classics like 1986's 'Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer', 1983's 'Angst' or any of the more contemporary August Underground series of films. But what we can ask for, what we can expect from this kind of established style of filmmaking and narrative storytelling, are films that can deliver them in an effective manner. After all, as was just said, there is plenty of groundwork laid out for anyone attempting to do so.
And thank the horror gods we are able to get just that. A tightly produced film about a sadistic dynamic duo which seek to satisfy their most vicious darkest desires together, in the form of documented murder. HOW ROMANTIC.
And how familiar too. But what allows McAnulty and Stewart's 'Capture Kill Release' to elevate itself above the trappings of its somewhat hackneyed scenario, are the believably solid performances from the film's two leads. And while Farhang Ghajar's portrayal of the intensely devoted (and supremely naive) husband of the same name is definitely worthy of praise, it's his counterpart Jennifer (Jennifer Fraser) who's teetering madness, and unhinged sociopathic proclivities are played to a bone chilling level of believability. Her transitions between that sweet, in-control girl-next-door type and the blood-thirsty psycho are so masterfully handled that you tend to get caught off-guard, in much the same way her poor devoted lover is. It's never quite full-tilt though; there's no denying that Jennifer plays her character as someone who appears to have things under control, but there's always just enough slippage of her mask of normalcy to hint at the potential explosiveness tucked away beneath. We begin to better understand then, why Farhang behaves in the subservient way that he does; why risk having the mask fall completely off? Makes sense. Quite honestly, it's that unpredictability in her character and general comfort with the act of murder that gives 'Capture Kill Release' its horror elements. Watching her excitedly shop for power tools and bludgeoning objects, expressing her joyful anticipation to Farhang about killing someone, and gleefully going over related minutiae in disturbing detail the way one would when planning a birthday party, say. Its unnerving, and often-times down right scary.
So it's interesting to read that other reviewers and audiences found the moments of "prep-time" to be absurdly hilarious, or that the detailing of the murder - the who, what, when, where and why - came off as equally comedic. For me, there was nothing worth laughing at during the events leading up to the actual moments of violence. The flippancy in behavior and care-free attitude of the disturbed couple only served to fuel the unsettling nature of the subject matter at hand. The tension was intensified as a result, the wait for gruesome inevitability became excruciating. And perhaps knowing that so many real-life tragedies have probably gone down the same way, targets chosen so randomly and without a care in the world, is what gives it all such a horrifying level of authenticity.
And what of the actual kill?
Well, let's just say that the same films which inspired this one, apparently rubbed off on the practical effects side of production. Its brutal, incredibly realistic, and framed against that same lah-dee-dah bullshit attitude Jennifer sports throughout the film's running time - which only means the gory proceedings become that much more darker. It also doesn't end on that note either, oh no, there's still 30 more minutes to wrap up once the blood and guts are cleaned and disposed of! Unfortunately the back end isn't as strong as everything that came before it. Still, you won't be left disappointed, and furthermore, maybe even pleased to discover that despite the threat to a healthy relationship plotting and executing a heinous act of murder can be, Farhang and Jennifer end the film together. Ain't love grand?