Miguel Angel Vivas Talks Kidnapped

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One of the most brutal recent entries in the home invasion subgenre is Miguel Ángel Vivas’ Kidnapped, whose real fear of home invasions compelled the making of the film. Recently Dread Central had an opportunity to sit down with the director to learn more about his motivation as well as the techniques he employed for Kidnapped.

“I think this is always a nightmare for other people, and it is something that I’ve feared since childhood,” explained Vivas. And this fear has not gone unabated, fueled by real stories from his home country: “…[I]n Spain the situation regarding those types of attacks has really changed a lot because in the past robbers or attackers would wait for a family to be gone before they came in, but over the last few years a new trend has developed, and actually, attackers want to make sure that the people are inside.”

To explore his nightmare even further, Vivas sought out survivors of these home invasions to hear their stories. “I was shocked myself by the extent of this violence. How strong it is. How much impact it has on people. I was really able to perceive how violent human beings can be, and how much harm they can do to their fellow human beings.”

The stories these survivors told helped informed his decision to shoot the film in a highly naturalistic style. “What I wanted to do was not so much tell a story, but for the audience to share an experience. It was really important for me for the audience to feel involved, and to feel as if they were being kidnapped as they were watching the movie. So I decided to show the violence in the way I did because that was my intent. I really wanted for the people to experience it as if they were a part of the situation like that.”

Miguel Angel Vivas Talks Kidnapped

The intensity of the material also reverberated through the cast. “…Whenever we would cut, then the actors were so deeply in it that they continued crying, and they were still shocking after we said ‘cut’. We would allow them a good fifteen, twenty minutes at a time to recover, to allow them to stop crying, to allow them to get over those really overwhelming emotions.”

From a technical standpoint, shooting such long takes limited what he could capture in a day due to set-up times and a lot of rehearsal with the actors. “In the end we would work on just one shot a day, so we did twelve shots in twelve days.”

There are two scenes in particular which create a crescendo within the film’s saturated violence. Though achieved in post, the effects are stunningly realistic and used as a sort of catharsis. “There was a lot of build-up, a lot of pent-up emotions there, and it’s some way of letting it out in that particular scene. So, for the first time, the audience would actually understand that violence. I can understand that it could be seen as too gruesome or explicit, but it was a way of escaping for all of the tension that had been accumulating before.”

The film’s violence, though intense and prevalent, is never exploitive, as Vivas mentions. The film shows the horror of an event like this — not sentimental, not exciting; it seeks to unapologetically brutalize its audience with the truth. “In terms of the filmmaker’s stance regarding violence, there are films that are violent, and they seem to sort of defend violence; they seem to promote a worldview where violence is justified. I’m disgusted with movies like that. That was not my point. I did not want to express my own opinion on violence; I just wanted to show it. I just wanted to show its effects. I wanted to show the kind of trauma, the kind of experience that people that are the victims of it go through. That was my objective.”

Our thanks to Miguel Ángel Vivas for taking the time to speak with us. Kidnapped (review here) is currently available On Demand and will be making its way to home video soon from IFC.

Miguel Angel Vivas Talks Kidnapped

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Heather Buckley

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