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Caught Inside – film review

July 19, 2015

CAUGHT INSIDE

A terrifically taut indie psycho thriller.

caught inside - ben oxenbould

Directed by Adam Blaiklock. Written by Joe Velikovsky, Adam Blaiklock and Matt Tomaszewski. Starring: Ben Oxenbould, Sam Lyndon, Simon Lyndon, Harry Cook, Peter Phelps, Leanna Walsman and Daisy Betts. Year of release: 2010. Running time: 93 minutes.

When a group of friends embark on a surfing safari aboard a chartered yacht, tensions arise when a latent sociopath is revealed to be amongst them and a fun-filled trip away quickly spirals into a violent hostage situation with no prospect of escape.

A ship-board psycho thriller in the tradition of Knife in the Water and Dead Calm, Adam Blaiklock’s feature debut was winner of an Audience Award at the 2010 Sydney Film Festival, as well as winning the 2010 Independent Spirit Award at the Kodak Inside Film Awards. Using the seafaring adage that it’s problematic having females aboard a boat at sea – as the sexual tension created would naturally disrupt unity among an otherwise all-male crew as its inspiration, Caught Inside is also a beautifully-staged and compelling character study of sociopathy.

For a first feature, Blaiklock’s direction is remarkably assured, with the tension ramping up considerably in the second half. While some viewers may take issue with the slow-burn initial half, this deliberate pacing does allow us enough screen time to get to know these generally likeable characters (including the antagonist). We do get hints that not all is right with Bull (Ben Oxenbould) from the outset, but it is only when he brutally bashes a rival surfer for trivial reasons that we realize he’s actually a highly volatile and potentially dangerous individual indeed. This powerhouse central performance by Ben Oxenbould has been favourably compared to Robert De Niro’s performance in Cape Fear, but the humour and pathos with which Oxenbould is able to imbue his character also recalls Eric Bana’s star-making turn as the titular Chopper in many respects. But where Chopper Read and Bull differ is the way Oxenbould’s pitch-perfect performance also reveals his character’s underlying vulnerability. Despite his inability to relate to others, all he really wants is to be liked and appreciated. Indeed, during the tension-filled dinner scene where Bull has prepared     a ‘family dinner’ of raw Marlin for his hostages (believing it in all honesty to be Sashimi), Oxenbould is able to make us feel a surprising level of sympathy for this clearly sociopathic – yet damaged person. The moment during this scene when Alex (Leeanna Walsman) asks Bull if he has any friends and he (in all sincerity) gestures to everyone present around the table whom he’s been terrorizing (as he truly believes they are his friends) is incredibly poignant and really quite sad. The rest of the small cast do well in their roles with fresh-faced Daisy Betts as Sam – the object of Bull’s unwanted affections – beautifully cast here; conveying an unpretentious lack of awareness of her own appeal.

The tightly-woven screenplay penned by Joe Velikovsky (based on an initial outline by Blaiklock and subsequent treatment co-written with Joe – with additional script revisions by Tomaszewski) ensures there is never a moment wasted. And having read several of Joe’s other Aussie-centric screenplays, his signature handle on the Aussie vernacular is clearly present here (which may well be somewhat perplexing     at times to those unfamiliar with down-under slang).

The crisp and dynamic HD cinematography by Damian Wyvill ACS is strikingly vivid for the most part. Although the opening scenes – where the party assembles to board the yacht in Indonesia – do seem to have an inferior quality to them (in comparison to the rest of the film that is). Once we’re out at sea, however, heading out across the Indian Ocean, the pictures become breathtakingly beautiful, effortlessly capturing the spectacular Maldives locations. The fact that the film was shot entirely on location aboard the cramped confines of a real yacht also adds enormously to the overall verisimilitude of the piece. And I should also make mention of Craig Butters‘ effective sound design – which enhances greatly the sense of immersion during the surfing sequences.

My only real issue with the film is the title. Caught Inside is apparently a surfing term which, to a general audience, does little to inspire interest – which may well be a reason why the film hasn’t garnered the widespread attention it deserves. I know it went under several different monikers during production and it’s a shame a less passive and more attention-grabbing title couldn’t be found which would better give     an impression of the film itself.

While lacking the body count and viciousness of the better-known Wolf Creek, the threat of violence in an enclosed and isolated space, along with Ben Oxenbould’s compelling performance and Adam Blaiklock’s confident direction are what make Caught Inside such an effective little indie thriller.

3.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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2 Comments
  1. Wow – great review – thanks so much Greg!
    Cheers,
    Joe

    • gregory moss permalink

      Cheers Joe! Glad you like it. It was great re-watching it again. Nice work! 🙂

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