Capture Kill Release (2016)


I’ve been married nearly a decade now, and occasionally someone will ask me what I think makes a successful marriage. Of course, I have a barrage of criteria--things you would probably expect like a sacrificial attitude, patience, shared political and religious sentiments. But for me, the biggest predictor of a couple’s longevity is the degree to which both parties take an interest in the other’s hobbies. Sure, that hunk might look studly wallowing on the couch watching seven uninterrupted hours of Sports Center now, but in thirty years, you’re going to want your den not to smell like Fritos and frustration when your book club comes over. I think it’s a pretty good theory, but like most good theories it stops at murder.

Tuesday’s release of Capture Kill Release does a fantastic job of providing a macabre counterpoint to my thesis. It tells the story of young, beautiful Jennifer and her gorgeous, ambitious husband Farhang as they live a fairly normal existence in Canada. Their days are cozy but uneventful. They go to the hardware store, they surf the internet, they have frequent, passionate sex--all of this while accompanied by Jennifer’s ever-watchful camera. The only problem is their otherwise ordinary existence is predicated on the couple’s shared interest in killing a complete stranger. Husband Farhang at first seems enthusiastic, but as Jennifer quickly escalates their quest, going out on her own to find victims and surprising him with painful and emotionally challenging “tests,” his resolve weakens. Once Jennifer experiences the joy of killing, there may be no stopping her.

Let me be entirely honest with you: This is a found footage movie. Now, if you didn’t immediately navigate away from the page in a flurry of righteous indignation, I applaud you. When I got the screener for this little gem and realized what I had gotten myself into, I was not thrilled. “I thought this was 2017,” I scoffed, “not 2007.” Good one, Pennie! I know, dear reader, you’ve been burned before, and you have no reason to trust me, but this is a good example of found footage done right. “No such thing!” you might retort (and for flavor, I like to pretend you sound like a horrified aristocrat--it’s better this way). But please, monsieur, allow me to explain.

This film’s greatest asset is overwhelmingly Jennifer Fraser. She has an impossible task to do and carries it off with aplomb. Jennifer’s character (also named Jennifer a la Paranormal Activity), is no weirdo recluse. She’s funny, sexy, flirty, and vivacious. She might spend her free time shopping for the right size ax perfect for dismembering some poor soul, but she’ll pose like an Instagram cutie while she does it. All that charm is seductive at first, and like the unlucky Farhang, the audience can get drawn into it. She’s a Manic Pixie Murderer, and when all that pert and perky personality gives way to her more controlling, manipulative side, it works so well. We are already invested in this sweet-seeming girl, it’s hard to believe what she’s planning and all too easy to follow her. It’s her idea to film everything, and though Farhang is unsure at first, she playfully integrates the camera into their love making, making the camera not an intruder, but a twisted member of the family. Most found footage movies suffer from the character’s compulsion to film everything all the time. That level of obsessiveness is not normal in the usual found footage protagonist who tend to be innocent bystanders, families on vacation, or simply people with a passion for film. But in the hands of a brutal, crazed serial killer, the need to document and later fetishize every aspect of the crime makes sense. Jennifer is as crazy as she is cute, and as her abusive behavior toward her husband and others increases, so does the camera use, becoming another weapon she uses to humiliate and torment. This puts the viewer in her subject position. We see what she sees and feel partly complicit in her senseless crimes.

Another boon this movie enjoys is the acting of its other lead, Farhang Ghajar. He, like Jennifer Fraser, is able to project a lovable amiability that makes his participation in the murders all the more terrifying. But his character is less fleshed-out and less convincing than Jennifer. The biggest flaw of Capture Kill Release is its inability to accurately give us a look into Farhang’s head. Why does he go so far in this plot? Was he interested in violence and murder before he met Jennifer? Does he think this is some weird joke or some kinky fetish that will never go as far as it does? We don’t know. For a thrilling counterpoint, I want to take the opportunity to plug Fabrice Du Welz’s amazing 2014 Alleluia, which draws as heavily on the Lonely Hearts Killers as Capture Kill Release does on the Barbie and Ken Killers. Du Welz also features a fearsome murder couple where the female partner directs her reluctant husband to kill innocent people. But unlike Capture Kill Release, Du Welz takes pains to show the trauma and insecurity that would lead Michel to follow his lover Gloria’s wicked lead.

Take the gamble: Capture Kill Release is a found footage movie you will actually enjoy. While it doesn’t exactly make any profound statements about the darkness of the human heart (Yeah, Fabric Du Welz!), it features smart, unflinching, brutal camera work, truly funny, truly frightening dialogue, and a heroine you’ll love to loathe and loathe to love.

Capture Kill Release is available beginning March 7th on iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, XBox, FlixFling and more. Pair it with Alleluia on Shudder for a date night unlike any other... movie and a murder, anyone?

Pennie Sublime