Reviewbr> "I wouldn't want to fight you Bull" - Toobs
A group of friends are on a surfing safari and have hired a yacht with crew and a local surfing legend named Bull to show them some hidden surf spots. Unfortunately in what is meant to be a boys' adventure Toobs has brought his girlfriend Alex and her unattached friend Sam. Sam and Rob strike up a relationship which isn't appreciated by Bull, an alpha male who has all the maturity of a Twilight fan.
As the safari moves to isolated waters tensions within the group rise as Bull proves to be slightly deranged, the warning signs are there early, and takes an unwanted interest in Sam. An incident on a beach leads to a confrontation between Bull, Rob, and Skipper Joe. Bull is stranded on an Island for the night in order to cool down, but fires himself up and swims out to the yacht intent on putting things right. What follows is a harrowing tale of survival as the friends' face the psychological and physical intimidation Bull brings to bare.
Okay before preceding any further, anyone else think Daisy Betts looks like a young Julia Roberts? For the first third of the movie I was all over the resemblance and hell those bikinis as the movie grinded its way to the "good bits".
Yes I know I keep harping on about movies using slow builds to ramp the tension and atmosphere, but to be honest Caught Inside was simply too long in the build for its own benefit. While Bull remaining interesting throughout, thanks to one hell of a good performance from Ben Oxenbould, the rest of the characters weren't that interesting. Sam had done a sexy strip for an ex- boyfriend that found its way onto the net, cry me a river - cameras and social media yo, and Alex filmed herself and Toobs doing the wild thing for no apparent reason! Rob remained undeveloped, Archie was the slow one, and the Skipper was missing Gilligan or something. I'm not heavily into surf movies, so those shots were boring, though I did dig the underwater shots being taken to break up some of the longer sequences.
The movie starts slow, drags itself somehow to the final block, and then delivers excellenceWhat the Writers did get right, and Director Adam Blaiklock didn't drop the ball on, was the gradually unravelling of Bull's sociopathic tendencies. Early in the movie one of the characters corrects Bull about fish being sold in a market, later he takes exception to being corrected on anything. When Rob gashes his leg on coral and Sam tries some lime treatment to avoid the wound getting infected, Bull tries to turn the conversation back to himself by mentioning his own former injuries. There's the whole issue of a fisherman who went missing. And to top things off Bull takes exception to another surfer who is already at one of the secret surf spots. Sam and Alex pick Bull as trouble, while the guys don't pick on issues till its way too late. Bull is manipulative, doesn't like not being the center of attention, and sees even the most minor criticism as someone wanting to have "a go at the Bull". It helps that Oxenbould is built like the proverbial brick shithouse, and has the acting nous to pull of the long day journey into night requirements. For mine the best Downunder psycho performance since John Jarrett went bush in Wolf Creek.
I guess the other major component of Caught Inside that is working like a brought one is Director Blaiklock's use of his nautical locations. Through a series of long shots we are informed of just how isolated from civilisation the group is, as well as bringing on board some scenery that is great to look out, all about those sunsets. Blaiklock doesn't over used his location background but it's constant at the side of frame, in long shot, and otherwise infused throughout the movie.
So having a memorable protagonist aboard, and setting the scene with his isolation inducing long shots, Blaiklock notches things up in the final block of the movie to present scenes dripping with malice and inherent danger for our luckless group of surfers. The tension is actually working well in a number of scenes where people are being stalked by Bull, sure it's a limit space situation with the yacht, the main location, but Blaiklock manages to have Bull pop up from surprise angles in a perfectly natural fashion. Helping out is plenty of POVs from various victims as they try and determine where Bull is at. Please note this is not a high body count flick, we're not talking a slasher here, but the Director does bring to mind the slasher style stalking scene. Wonderfully Bull doesn't lumber after his victims or use some sort of teleportation to get from place to place. If you can get through the first couple of blocks of this movie then the final confrontation section is going to pay you off like a politician's bagman.
I guess I should also mention one scene where I thought Alex was trying to pull off a Ginny from Friday the 13th Part 2, we're talking psychological warfare yo. Not sure if the Writers were nodding toward the former movie or its simply one of those cases of coincidence you run across, good attempt by Alex, she went up in our estimation by providing some pop psychology.
Before I forget this isn't a shark movie, don't go expecting any fins in the water, the only predators here are wholly human.
Tom Schutzinger throws on a score that pretty much is a guided tour in how to put together a thriller soundscape. We begin with guitar driven, almost folk, style acoustics that capture the mood Director Blaiklock is aiming to portray before moving to denser, electronic, ominous sounds that enhance the visuals the viewer is confronted with. Excellent work, two thumbs up from the orchestral pit.
Caught Inside was one of those movies that end up in our review queue with little to no fanfare, almost passing under the ScaryMind's radar. While I had some issues with the pacing, Blaiklock is too slow with the build-up - he needed an impact scene early, I really dug the build-up of Bull's character, the Maldives locations used to perfection, and the final menacing block that put the "thrill" into thriller. If you dug Cape Fear and have a relationship with surfing movies then grab a viewing of Caught Inside, if not then the pacing may prove slightly glacial. Recommended to those with the patience to sit through a grinding build up for some psychological mayhem payoff in the final block.
Caught Inside should be available from your local DVD outlet, it's had quite the wide DVD release thanks to the good folks at Umbrella entertainment. Along with the movie you get deleted scenes, the trailer, the usual gushing bollocks from the cast and crew, and an interesting commentary from the Director and cinematographer Damien Wyvill.