Capture Kill Release


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Capture Kill Release
"Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart combine a disturbing story with sharply observed satire in a film that's as much about relationships as it is about murder."

Ever since the Leopold and Loeb case hit the headlines in 1924, artists have been fascinated by the notion of couples or pairs of people who seek to kill strangers wholly or partly in order to prove to themselves that they can get away with it. Most famously explored onscreen by Alfred Hitchcock in Rope, and revisited numerous times since, it reappears here as found footage, also exploring themes of voyeurism and obsession. Jennifer (Jennifer Fraser) has an intense desire to film a murder. Partner Farhang (Farhang Ghajar) reluctantly indulges her fantasies out of a desire to please. But how far will she go, and how much can their relationship take?

Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart combine a disturbing story with sharply observed satire in a film that's as much about relationships as it is about murder. In the hardware story, Farhang tries to focus on what's practical whilst Jennifer runs around like an excited child, posing with a axe. He has the kind of uptight terror of attracting attention that's likely to make strangers think they're buying bdsm equipment. Her carelessness is far more likely to go under the radar. But when she applies the same carelessness to stalking a stranger who has insulted her, Farhang has good cause to get nervous. She had promised him she'd choose somebody they couldn't be connected to. That it wouldn't be personal. When she brings somebody home, he tries desperately not to let it get personal, not to see the person she plans to involve him in killing as a human being.

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The consequences of this delicate psychological balancing act are rife with absurdity. Jennifer enjoys taunting Farhang in multiple ways. We watch him struggle to avoid eating pork although he's already consented to carve up a dead body, his main point of resistance having been concern over the small size of the bath. His desire to please is tempered by moral concern but also by protectiveness; somewhere near the back of the queue comes concern with protecting himself. McAnulty's script acknowledges the abusive nature of the relationship but Ghajar shows us enough of the affection his character feels to tell us why he hasn't left. Fraser, meanwhile, gives us a character who is essentially psychopathic but still capable of generosity and suddenly, utterly adrift in the moments when she finally realises he might not always be there for her.

The directors use the conceits of YouTube culture beautifully in a series of diary style video entries that play with established tropes: the shopping video, the how-to video, the confessional. Jennifer keeps up the kind of chirpy narration that could easily see her get established as an online celebrity - the particular subject of her vlogging seems almost incidental. When the ugly moment comes, the camera doesn't hold back, but no tricks are used to invite the viewer (or Farhang) to share her thrill. The result, for us, is inevitably antyiclimactic (though there's still a good bit more film to come); her intense excitement has a distancing effect, and we see directly how misplaced Farhang's belief that it would strengthen their bond was. Any number of viewers who have played along with fetishes they don't share in order to please their partners will relate to this, no murder necessary.

Though hardly original, Capture Kill Release is very well judged throughout and the chemistry between the leads goes a long way towards helping it convince. Despite the occasional moment that doesn't quite ring true (a homeless character is far more trusting than anyone who's really spent time on the streets would be), it generally holds together well and its comfortable humour gives way to real discomfort at exactly the right moments. Romantic comedies don't get much blacker than this.

Reviewed on: 23 Sep 2017
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A couple hope to strengthen their bond by murdering a stranger, but instead discover that they have some serious differences.

Director: Nick McAnulty, Brian Allan Stewart

Writer: Nick McAnulty

Starring: Jennifer Fraser, Jon Gates, Farhang Ghajar, Rich Piatkowski, Christina Schimmel

Year: 2016

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada


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