Stockholm Syndrome Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
Written and directed by Ryan Cavalline
2008, Region 0 (NTSC), 75 minutes, Not rated
Jason Senior as David
Eddie Benevich as Geno
Lisa Mirand as Anna
Todd David Humes as Ty
Michael Migliore as Mr. Pollino
Todd Proesl as The Priest
Geno (Eddie Benevich) and Ty (Todd Humes) are a pair of thugs who kidnap ordinary people and sell them into the slave trade. Ty is having a crisis of conscience and is looking to retire, but Geno warns him that their boss is not prepared to let him go.
David (Jason Senior) and Anna (Lisa Mirand) are returning home from an obstetrician appointment and decide to rest at a motel. It is here that their lives are forever changed upon meeting the slave traders. Excessive physical abuse leads to psychological torture and a test of the human spirit.
It is at this point that Stockholm Syndrome sinks into a carnival of depravity. The man behind the operation, Mr. Pollino (Michael Migliore) has a list of clients waiting for new prospects. Victims endure a variety of tortures, both physical and psychological, as they are worn down and forced into a life of submission. Pollino demonstrates a slave girl's loyalty and follows the act with an explanation of the effects of "Stockholm Syndrome", a willingness for the captive to side with the captor.
Stockholm Syndrome is interesting in that it will go balls out to show some things, but then timidly backs away from others. In one scene, a priest (Todd Proesl) with a need to vaginally cleanse the spirits of the wicked women he hires (using homemade razor edged dildos) arrives for a sodomy session that is depicted in full glory, yet when it is time for his own punishment the torture occurs off camera. There are a few other scenes like this, and it leads to disappointment in terms of the catharsis of karma.
Director Ryan Cavalline (Day of the Ax, House of Carnage) brings an intense energy to the events that transpire within the brisk running time. There are quiet moments to be certain, and the film has a nice steady pace that keeps the viewer interested in something that one could almost call character development — a feature new to the Cavalline curriculum. While his earlier efforts are annoying riffs on Tobe Hooper's Texas Chain Saw classics, Stockholm Syndrome takes a page from contemporary films like Hostel and The Devil's Rejects. This time around, Cavalline's characters are original, even if the situations are at times too familiar, and he is able to venture into fresh variations of the torture subgenre.
The low-budget arena is a place where filmmakers can take ideas to their farthest reaches without the worry of gambling with someone else's money. Millions of dollars are not at risk in the telling of this small film. An example of this indie bravado comes in the moment the kidnapper threatens a pregnant woman. I had hoped the film would take a darker turn not often found within mainstream cinema. Cavalline granted my wish by not only pushing the envelope, but by addressing the possibility so early into the plot. By showing a willingness to entertain the darkest aspects of this story, I had no idea where the filmmakers would lead or what would follow.
I was pleased to see the glee with which Cavalline approached the material, never shying away from the next logical progression in violence. The special effects are serviceable, but not jaw dropping. The magic is often lost through out of focus close-ups of the gore-a direct result of relying solely on the camera's auto focus setting. Less attention seems to have been paid to the sound recording, but this may be the result of an unfinished screener print.
Video, audio and special features will not be graded, as this is a screener.
Stockholm Syndrome is a tale of human endurance and how people adapt to survive a given situation. While this is not what can be described as a "good movie", it is entertaining in its willingness to wallow in the wretchedness of human behavior.
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