Marriage is difficult. It has challenges. There has to be room for understanding, for communication, for supporting the other, trying to accommodate their needs but also sometimes telling them, gently, kindly, that what they want is more than the relationship can handle. Take Farhang and Jennifer, for example. She wants to kill a complete stranger and film it, and Farhang has some qualms about this.
Directed by Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart from a script by McAnulty, Farhang Ghajar and Jennifer Fraser play the married couple in question in Capture Kill Release, she obsessing over what she terms “her purpose,” he timidly going along with her almost as though caught between an inability to contradict her and the sheer incredulity of her plans.
The planned victim must meet the specifications of each: he says they shouldn’t target a gay man, or indeed any minority, as they don’t want it to appear to be a hate crime, while Jennifer’s criteria means no mental or physical disability, no women, and not a child. “I’m not a child killer. We could kill a teenager. Everyone hates teenagers.”
Where Farhang is spineless, Jennifer is an amoral and impulsive psychopath, more concerned about how she will feel after the deed than over how the victim will feel, and she insists that their eventual victim must be conscious and aware during the deed which she will compulsively record, as cruel and dismissive to her husband as she is to strangers.
A mean-spirited and ugly film, an amalgamation of the found footage and torture porn subgenres, neither of which should ever have been encouraged to flourish and certainly never to come together, Capture Kill Release somehow still manages the feat of being incredibly dull, a matter-of-fact tour of hardware stores and concerns over the poor size of the bathtub where they will drain the blood and dismember the body, Farhang at least pleased that he received a significant discount on his new power saw.
A pair of unreal characters in an unreal situation, the plot is built around a single idea but never expanded; despite Jennifer’s promise that “the boring bits” of her perpetual recording will be cut out the opposite is profoundly true, and rather than incisive dialogue and nuanced performance offering insight into her disturbed mind and his inability to escape from her hold the standard found footage template of endless empty bickering is instead tediously employed.
Other than her ambidextrous ability to use camera and hammer simultaneously Jennifer is not a master manipulator, she is not intellectually persuasive, she offers none of the moral challenge or debate of, for example, The Last Supper, she is instead a selfish, demanding shrew, a black void where any semblance of humanity should be as she alternates between blasé and giddy in her escalation from killing animals to the homeless to a man who called her a bad name in the street.
With no complexity, shade or doubt to Jennifer, a brief insert of archive footage of her as a toddler a clumsy and clichéd attempt to pretend there is more to her than this monstrous caricature, what is to be taken from the film? That evil has no concept that it is evil? That modern America lives in a bubble divorced from morality? With no hint from the directors that this is meant as a condemnation rather than a voyeuristic celebration of cruelty, it seems unlikely that any worthwhile answer will be forthcoming.
Capture Kill Release is available now on DVD from Eureka Video