Jennifer (Jennifer Fraser) and Farhang (Farhang Ghajar) are an attractive young couple who live together and punctuate their days with energetic bouts of lovemaking. Their amour is switched on by their shared enthusiasm for a film project they're working on: preparing to abduct and kill a random person on camera.

To this end, CAPTURE KILL RELEASE wastes no time in establishing its basic premise and style. This is a faux documentary shot on a single handheld camera in the "found footage" style, the subject matter of which is a young couple excitedly making preparations to make a film of their move into the next level of their relationship: murder.

We follow them as they traverse the aisles of their local hardware store, picking up power tools intended to help them with the disposal of their eventual quarry. We watch as they position their camera on the edge of the bathtub so it can document them losing themselves in the excitement of one day hacking a victim to pieces, and fucking each other senseless in the heat of the moment. We view events through Jennifer's eyes as she approaches friendly transient Gary (Jon Gates) with an eye to him becoming the eventual star of their would-be snuff movie.

It's during this latter encounter that Jennifer accidentally bumps into an arrogant businessman (Rich Piatkowski) as he's passing by. Like, literally bumps into him - spilling his coffee in the process. He gives a mouthful of abuse, which in turn leads her to believe that he'd make a more suitable victim than the heartbreakingly amenable Gary.

After locating the businessman's address, Jennifer takes Farhang there and they park outside. She suggests a home invasion but he's reticent. So instead she hints at him following their wealthy target with an eye to abducting him - but, again, Farhang is reluctant to follow this through.

All of which takes the couple back to the drawing board. And leads Jennifer to returning the following morning to the street corner where she knows she'll find Gary slumped. She invites Gary to their home that evening, telling him they're making a student film and they want him to be the star. Of course, he's agreeable to the promise of an evening meal washed down by wine.

And so, come that evening, our sexed-up couple finally have a victim in their home just waiting to be killed on camera. But one of these lovers is less into what transpires than the other one - which is going to lead to all kinds of trouble...

"Not another found-footage flick!" you may reasonably protest. The thing is though, Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stuart's CAPTURE KILL RELEASE is really rather good.

For a start, the two central performances are excellent. There's a convincing chemistry shared between Fraser and Ghajar, both as lovers and as lightly bickering pals. The film's first act successfully draws us into their largely jovial world, where neither of them contemplates the gravity of their plotting - they simply revel in the sexual excitement such conversations mutually provoke.

Their preparations are at times borderline comical, be it a debate in a hardware store over which tools would most effectively obliterate a corpse, or a discussion where Ghajar insists that their victim should not be gay, elderly, pregnant, handicapped or from an ethnic minority background. Accusing him of being racist, homophobic and sexist, Fraser retorts that it should be "equal murder opportunity for everyone". Later, when he uses tissue paper to clean up a bloody mess, she berates him: "don't use paper towels, you're wasting trees!"

The actors handle the gradual transition in tone well too. From the lighter beginnings, through the dark mid-section which details the murder and alarmingly gory disposal of a victim in unflinching manner, and all the way to the intense, implosive final third where both parties react to their actions in differing ways.

CAPTURE KILL RELEASE is certainly a horror film. The subject matter and gory torture-porn elements ensure of that. With the graphic bloodletting and shakycam voyeurism, these moments can't help but bring to mind the likes of AUGUST UNDERGROUND. But it's also much more than that: it's a character study, a relationship drama and a muse over the moral implications of playing God. Okay, it's not entirely successful in its exploration of the latter - it's debatable what we actually learn about these flawed characters - but these facets still elevate the film above the usual torture-video-diary offerings.

The logic isn't always capable of withstanding close scrutiny, and the editing oft-times betrays the notion of this being a home video, but ignore these minor quibbles and you'll find this to be an interesting moral drama with enough bloodshed to satisfy most horror hounds.

CAPTURE KILL RELEASE comes to UK DVD courtesy of Eureka! Entertainment.

Their region 2 disc presents the film uncut - 95 minutes and 14 seconds in length - and in its original 16x9 widescreen ratio. As is often the case with these video diary-style digital video productions, the transfer is not an easy one to comment upon. I mean, images are crisp and clear for the most part, colours are strong, and so on. But there's also a deliberate lo-fi look to proceedings which sometimes results in scenes being overly dark or suffering from minor jerky interference. The transfer looks extremely faithful to how I imagine the film is intended to look. The final act is shot on a different camera, and proffers a grainier, window-boxed picture more akin to video.

English 2.0 audio is reliable and consistent throughout, offering clear dialogue playback. Given that this is a faux documentary devoid of music and low on sound effects, this isn't the most dynamic of tracks by nature.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. Although there is no scene selection option, the film can be skipped through by way of 10 chapters.

Extras begin with a couple of inconsequential deleted scenes (2 minutes and 7 minutes, respectively). The latter scene consists of our lovers taking a woodlands stroll one snowy afternoon, looking for a suitable location to dump the remains of their prospective victim. It's superfluous, but I'm not sure if it was perhaps deleted because the audio during this sequence suffers from a really unnatural echoed effect.

"Untreated VHS Scenes" is 12 minutes of footage from the film. Bizarrely, this appears to be the digital footage shot to bookend the occasional moments of VHS footage (now and then we get snippets of archive footage depicting Jennifer as a toddler, for example). Quite why this is reproduced here, I don't know. Did I miss something, perhaps?

Three teaser trailers and two trailers complete the bonus material.

Don't let the "found footage" label put you off: CAPTURE KILL RELEASE is an excellent example of how that much-maligned sub-genre can thrive when treated to good performances, full rounded characters and a story with a beginning, middle and end.


Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Eureka! Entertainment