Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Captive, formerly titled Katherine’s Lullaby, is a slow-burn horror/thriller from skilled writer/director Savvas Christou. Teenage runaway Lily (Tori Kostic), fleeing her abusive father, gets kidnapped and held against her will by a delusional older man (William Kircher) convinced she’s actually his daughter. In order to survive, Lily must play pretend for as long as it takes. A limited cast and setting keeps the action small-scale, working to the benefit of the unnerving and intimate narrative.

Captive is a story we’ve seen before, but never like this. Every character has purpose, and the suspense ramps up the intensity thanks to our connections to them. Lily’s journey from passive victim to determined heroine is gradual and engaging. Atmosphere and tension callback to Stephen King’s Misery, buoyed by strong performances from both Tori Kostic and William Kircher. It takes several surprising turns that leave the viewer with much to contemplate after the conclusion. I look forward to seeing more in the future from Savvas Christou—the director takes a unique approach to Captive vs. similar ‘trapped in captivity’ movies. A fresh perspective for the genre is always welcomed with open arms, and I hope Christou is here to stay.

Captive screened at Panic Fest, April 8th – April 18th.

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