Director: Roland Joffe (2007)
Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Daniel Gillies, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Find it: IMDB
The movie that made a lot of people realise just what a tiresome subgenre torture guff was. Until Craptivity, we'd gone along with the likes of Hostel, pretending that we were being clever and arty by watching films in which kids wear ball gags and find themselves carved up by weird foreigners. For myself and many others, it was a case of the emperor wearing no clothes: Hostel was shit and its imitators are shit too.
So along came Craptivity and outraged everyone by putting its silly posters up even after the MPAA said not to. People began to realise "actually, films about torture and ball gags are a bit wank, aren't they?" But worse than shitting in its own bed, Craptivity tried to ruin it for the rest of us too. It gave horror a bad name. It made people say things like "won't somebody please think of the children" and made us horror fans seem sick in the head, the sort of people who enjoy putting gruesome posters opposite schools (which is admittedly quite funny). And that's partly why I hate torture movies and I hate the phrase "torture porn". But mostly it's because torture movies are boring, stupid self-serious nonsense.
24 star Elisha Cuthbert plays celebrity model Jennifer; object of a crazed stalker's affections. I didn't recognise Cuthbert at first, since every time I saw her on 24 she had a piece of duct tape or a hand over her mouth. It takes about ten minutes before somebody covers her mouth with anything in Craptivity (in this case a leather glove, Giallo style) but it's still her most kidnappy movie so far.
She wakes up in a gloomy basement and is repeatedly set upon by a shadow-dwelling figure, who gasses, chloroforms, buries and forcefeeds her face over and over again. Eventually, Jennifer realises that she is not alone - enter Gary (Gillies) who claims also to have been kidnapped. If you believe that for so much as an instant, you're even stupider than Jennifer. Before I'd ever watched Craptivity, I was reading a Fangoria story on the film. "I bet this Gary bloke is in on it," I thought. The Gary bloke is indeed in on it, using the torture dungeon like his own private Plenty Of Fish.
An actual screencap from Plenty Of Fish's 'success stories' page.
There's nothing to Craptivity but suspenseless torture scenes and Elisha Cuthbert looking hot. For a girl who endures days and days of violent torture, she comes out of it all as fresh as a daisy. After half an hour on the bus I look like a wreck, let alone a week in a torture dungeon. What I wouldn't give for Elisha Cuthbert's T-zone.
After drinking a smoothie made up of body parts and being forced to shoot her own dog, poor Jennifer is trapped in a little box that rapidly fills up with sand. She needn't worry though - like a Brazil nut in a bag of museli, she just rises straight to the top. Earlier, there's a scene where she communicates with Gary by scratching messages into her side of the glass. Bless her, she fails to realise that she needs to be writing backwards (as you would to read something in a mirror) in order for Gary to read it properly. It's a movie that hopes to distract the viewer with gruesome tortures and sexy Elisha Cuthberts.
It doesn't have the unintentional brilliance of I Know Who Killed Me, nor the intelligence of the few torture movies I happen to like (an exception to the 'all torture movies are terrible' rule; look under subsection 'hypocrite'). Other than the fact that I like Elisha Cuthbert and it has Pruitt Taylor Vince in it, Craptivity has few redeeming features. It's anything but Captivating.