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Captivity is a 2007 thriller film starring Elisha Cuthbert, and directed by Roland Joffé. It was released in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Argentina on June 22; in the United States on July 13; and in Australia on May 8, 2008.


At the beginning, a man is shown trapped by a mask around his face. The captor introduces a tube in his mouth, making him drink an unknown substance. The man starts to spit blood, and dies. The captor then smashes his head.

The movie cuts to Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert), a young fashion model and cover girl who has captured the attention of photographers and the public. On an evening out alone, Jennifer is stalked and drugged. She wakes in a stupor to find herself captive and confined to a cell.

A series of metal bins and numbered lockers abruptly swing open in front of her. They contain personal items taken from her apartment. She is forced to view videotapes containing images of the victims that were tortured previous to her captivity as well as videotaped interviews she had given to the media in the past. Trapped, realizing there is no way out, Jennifer pleads and screams to anyone that might hear her. During her confinement, she is subjected to various forms of psychological and sensory torture.

Jennifer eventually finds she is not alone. A young man, Gary (Daniel Gillies), is being held captive in an adjoining cell. The two make contact and try to find out why they are being held.

They find their way out, and a fight ensues between Gary and the captor. Ultimately, Jennifer is drugged once again and wakes up confined to a "torture chair" with Gary. Ready to pull out Jennifer's tooth, Gary insists the captor take his out instead.

Back in their cells, Gary and Jennifer have sex. Gary later awakens to find that Jennifer has been drugged once again. He takes out a key to an adjoining cell.

A tape is shown of a woman lying on her bed with cigarettes and pills scattered everywhere, apologizing to her son for "touching" him. The boy then repeatedly stabs his mother, killing her. He then snaps a picture of his dead mother. In a little corner glancing at the photo, a smirk appears on his face.

Meanwhile, Gary's key opens a door into a house, revealing that Gary and his older brother Ben are actually the captors. Gary joins Ben in the kitchen where they make sushi.

Gary tells Ben that he is falling in love with Jennifer. Ben strikes Gary and says "Play them, don't play with them." Ben then puts something in the refrigerator. Gary then stabs him. He then watches the same tape of the woman lying on the bed that was shown earlier. The boy stabbing his mother is revealed to have been Gary looking at a smirking Ben.

After the tape, Gary is seen reviewing a series of pictures in an album, when there is a knock at the door. Two detectives are looking for Ben. Gary tells them that his brother is not at the house. The detectives enter the house, getting comfortable and asking to watch a big sports game on TV. One of them flips the channel to the surveillance video of Jennifer sleeping. Seeing this, Gary shoots them both.

He runs down to where Jennifer is being held and tells her that he has killed "them" and that it is time to go. He places Jennifer in a room and tells her not to go. One of the detectives, not dead after all, jumps out at her but she beats him with a bat, believing him to be one of her captors. Jennifer then discovers the albums, and sees that Gary is in all of them. She is then attacked by Ben, who is not yet dead. She manages to finish him off by stabbing him again.

After viewing the albums, Jennifer hears the detective's pager ring and she goes through his personal belongings. Gary is seen recording Jennifer and claims she belongs to him and will help him clean up the mess. She tricks him and sprays ammonia in his eyes before running off.

On her way she cuts a series of wires and electrical cords, preventing doors, code entries, and lights from working. Jennifer picks up a flashlight and the gun used on the detectives, but fails to cock it. Gary then throws her on a bed and points the gun at her, explaining why the gun had not fired, while firing a round into the ceiling to demonstrate this and intimidate her. She kicks him in the groin and retrieves the gun from him. This time she cocks the gun. Instead of then shooting him in the head she shoots him in the groin, and says "Thanks" to him. She then shoots him in the heart and exits the room. She then leaves the house.


Actor / Actress Character
Elisha Cuthbert Jennifer Tree
Daniel Gillies Gary Dexter
Pruitt Taylor Vince Ben Dexter
Michael Harney Det. Bettigey
Laz Alonso Det. Di Santos

Advertising controversy

Several controversial images depicting promotional scenes from the film were released by After Dark Films in Los Angeles and New York where they were shown on billboards and taxicabs. The advertisement consisted of pictures involving the kidnapping, torture, and presumable murder of a female character. Offended witnesses soon filed complaints to After Dark, who claimed error and explained that the concept was only one of several working ideas that were being considered for marketing to the general public. According to Courtney Solomon, who spoke on behalf of After Dark, it was not supposed to have been approved; he followed by saying "To be honest with you, I don't know where the confusion happened and who's responsible."

"This film was done in association with After Dark Films. The nature of the association allows After Dark autonomy over their marketing materials, and therefore we neither saw nor approved this billboard before it was posted," said Peter Wilkes, head of Lionsgate investor relations. "Once aware of the materials and the reaction to them, we immediately asked After Dark to remove the billboards, to which they immediately and cooperatively responded."

Joss Whedon has become the public face of a movement directed at the MPAA to remove the film's rating, in accordance with MPAA guidelines that state that any film that uses advertising that has not been approved by the MPAA (in this case, the advertising was specifically disapproved) will possibly forfeit their right to be rated. According to writer Jill Soloway, who runs the website Remove the Rating, Solomon himself was responsible for the ads in question, going over the design in extreme detail, and is thus being disingenuous in the above-cited quote. The MPAA issued a ruling dated March 28, 2007, which said that, as punishment, it would not consider rating the film until at least April 30, making the release date of May 18 less likely (releasing the film "unrated" would greatly impact its potential to sell tickets). The MPAA is also, in an unprecedented move, requiring that they approve the placement of all forthcoming advertisements for the film.

Dramatic editing

After Dark Films founder and present head Courtney Solomon went back to edit the original concept of captivity to add more gore and violence to please the Americanmarker audience. In a statement, Solomon is believed to state that he felt the film was not gruesome enough for a mainstream "torture porn". Although he felt the change would bring in more money for the film after noticing the success of Hostel, the film tanked at the box office. Solomon later released a statement saying "It's overkill, I think audiences have said, 'I've had enough.' It's as simple as that."The original version of Captivity was only released in Spainmarker, Argentinamarker and the United Kingdommarker.

Alternative ending

In an alternative ending, present on the DVD, one year later, a man is captured and tortured, before being killed with a hammer (this is the event we see at the beginning of the movie). The man is revealed (through press clippings) to be a 3-time murderer of women, his assailant is revealed to be Jennifer.

Critical reception and box office

Captivity opened on Friday, July 13 to negative reviews. Online critic James Berardinelli gave it a zero star rating, stating that there is "nothing redeemable here. It's not tense or scary; it's just demented". named the film as the "worst horror film of 2007". Also, many reviewers have noted the striking similarities to films like Saw and Hostel.

Elisha Cuthbert's performance received mixed reviews, resulted her gaining nominations for both a Razzie and a Teen Choice Award.

Box Office

  • Domestic: $2,626,800
  • Foreign: $7,391,687
  • Worldwide: $10,018,487


The DVD was released on October 30, 2007 with a widescreen unrated version, and the original R-rated version. It includes a making-of featurette and an on-the-set look of the film. The cover has the 8 Films to Die For logo on it, despite the film not being present for the limited release film festival.

There is also a special two disc edition available. This version has a metal keep case and real fine sand and dirt on the front cover beneath a plastic layer which depict Elisha Cuthbert in relief print beneath it, just as in a scene of the movie.


Captivity's main theme music is a homage to John Carpenter's Halloween theme. The music takes a subtle, alternative spin on the underlying momentum and pace of Carpenter's music.


  1. ‘Captivity’ promises to be a feminist dream
  2. torture porn, the tanking of ‘Captivity,’ and the dooming of ‘Sunshine’?
  3. British Fim Critc Mark Kermode said "It's a Russian-American co-production, and on the basis of this I want the Cold War to start again now." Review: Captivity
  4. BD Horror News - BC's Top 10 Best & Worst List of 2007!

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