Courtesy Terror Films

Who can be the most evil? Sometimes I think that’s what Eddie Augustin’s full-length feature debut film HOSTAGE is asking. I’ve seen movies similar to this, where the villain ends up being some sort of anti-hero, but this movie is in a consistent pursuit of finding out who is more evil. Sometimes, that quest comes at the detriment of the story itself.

After briefly showing a glimpse at what is to come, HOSTAGE begins its story with a burglary. A man (Mike Cannz) breaks into a home not knowing if anyone is home. Unfortunately for him, Ashley (Nicole Henderson) and her father (Daryl Marks) are home. They tie the burglar to a chair and hold him hostage, hence the name. From here on out it becomes a mostly dialogue-led movie filled with lies, manipulation, and unfortunately lots of upsetting language, and not in the sense of 4-letter words.

The biggest flaw of HOSTAGE is that it takes cheap routes to make certain characters eviler than others. Immediately you’d want to side with the family whose home has been broken into, but the father who seems decent enough blurts out the N-word several times in the early goings of the movie. As we meet Ashley’s mother (Tina Trineer) she follows up with the N-word too, so we know she isn’t a good person. Ashley, herself, persistently accuses the burglar of trying to rape her. This writing doesn’t only feel cheap but also can be potentially triggering or off-putting, turning off a potential viewer completely.

If you can stick out those moments of cringe, there is actually some good acting to be seen here. Tina Trineer, in particular, has some wonderful scenes. She rides the line of being completely psychotic while also seeming like your friendly suburban housewife. Nicole Henderson steals the film though. Her torment of the burglar is difficult to watch but captivating, and at times, you might feel a bit sorry for her. She is both a victim and an antagonist and, as I watched, I didn’t know if I should help her or run from her. That’s hard to pull off.

HOSTAGE is a beautiful looking film, with the perfect blend of cinematography, set design, and lighting, but the writing for these characters was so off-putting that I didn’t really care who won this rat race to the bottom. This dialogue-heavy movie can be fun, but it isn’t the psychological thrill ride it aims to be.

HOSTAGE is now available on Digital.

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