Imagine waking up tied to a chair. A burlap sack is over your head and then enters the mysterious masked killer, right on cue. Not exactly my idea of a good time, but it is a strong way to start a short film. That is exactly what Director Thomas Elliott Griffiths does with Captive.
The poor sap in the sack is Dave, played by Lew Freeburn. As the scenario is revealed to us in the beginning, we hear a voice mail message left by Dave’s girlfriend. She grows more impatient with Dave not answering with each unanswered call. Her thick British accent along with the tone the visuals and music set, felt like the cold open to a Black Mirror episode. (That would be a compliment.)
I will not spoil it by going into too many other details. Instead let’s look beyond the frame of this short. At a lean 7 minute run time, Captive is perfectly paced. While Thomas Elliott Griffiths already has a feature documentary to his name, he wants to branch out into narrative filmmaking. Captive, is a great proof of concept in that regard.
The visual style is striking and it draws you into the suspense immediately. The production design, sound mix and editing are all on point. The only minor issue I had was how easily Dave could see through this bag on his head. We get several shots from Dave’s point of view, which is a good stylistic choice, but the image is so clear it renders putting the bag over his head useless.
Aspiring filmmakers take note, create something like Captive. Something simple, yet highly effective and within the genre and tone you feel best suited for. I see that an IndieGoGo campaign for Captive raised $953 toward the budget. Given that, all the money ended up on screen. Thomas Elliott Griffiths co-wrote this short as well, along with Duane Williams. Whatever this team comes up with next… you certainly won’t need to tie me down to watch it.