A serious horror aficionado might not be blamed for expecting nothing but four-star mini-masterpieces from France these days. The last several years have seen a wonderfully dark deluge of ferocious French imports like High Tension, Inside, Martyrs, and Them -- but it's also yielded a few clunkers (like The Horde) and more than a handful of "good, not great" offerings like Mutants, The Ordeal, The Pack, and today's flick: Caged.
Also known as Captifs, Caged comes from first-timer Yann Gozlan, and it tells the tale of three medical professionals on their way to an important assignment who take an ill-advised shortcut and get abducted by despicable men with horrific intentions. If anything I just mentioned sounds particularly fresh or original, aside from perhaps the profession of the three victims, then you need to see more horror films. To its credit, Caged offers an unexpectedly interesting trio in Mathias (Eric Savin), Carole (Zoe Felix), and Samir (Arie Elmaleh), which makes the (very) basic Act I set-up somewhat compelling.
The second chunk of the film sees our poor threesome abducted and tossed into a cell, and just as the viewer is starting to believe that the reason for the kidnapping is something dark or unique ... turns out, nope: our poor doctors have been snagged by a sleazy bunch of organ harvesters. This slightly generic development gives way to effectively matter-of-fact moments of visceral horror ... but it's nothing we haven't seen before. It's not until the trio is lopped down to a duo and a misguided escape attempt is underway that Caged gets particularly suspenseful.
Sort of like a French version of Jamie Blanks' Storm Warning, in that it offers a fairly basic story, but does so with style and intensity before amping up the volume for a rock-solid third act, Caged offers strong performances, some rather nifty visual gimmickry (and sound design hijinks to boot), and a tight-fisted finale -- but still it's pretty basic fare all the way. With a few more new ideas Caged could have been a bit more memorable; as it stands it's a B- import that reminds us that "basic" French horror flicks are still generally more interesting than the American ones.