FEARNET Movie Review - Caught Inside


It'd probably be a bit too easy to describe the Australian import Caught Inside as "Dead Calm meets Donkey Punch," seeing as all three thrillers take place almost exclusively on boats populated by people who are trying to kill someone or avoid being killed. But the comparison is particularly apt here, because for all its solid assets, Caught Inside feels, almost literally, like "Dead Calm meets Donkey Punch," as in Act I feels a lot like Philip Noyce's well-remembered 1992 flick, Act II ramps up the paranoid tension much like the slick and nasty Donkey Punch did a few years back, and then Act III, seemingly with little inspiration left, just sort of meanders towards a quiet but not entirely unsatisfying finale. In other words, the best parts of Caught Inside are the parts you've already seen before.

And yet, there's still some fun to be found here. The cast of Australian newcomers is a varied and interesting lot, and if the plot is a little bit skimpy (it's about rape accusations that lead to a violent mutiny between sailors and surfers), then at least you've got lots of pretty people (not to mention cinematography) to look at. Director / co-writer Adam Blaiklock approaches character development with craft and sly confidence, which makes the suspense a bit subtler: we know someone's going to "butt heads" sooner or later, but the filmmaker lets us enjoy a few altercations before the violence begins. The screenplay is also canny enough to keep a dash of moral ambiguity running through all the characters, but most importantly the infuriated victim (Daisy Betts) and the colorfully despicable antagonist (Ben Oxenbould). There's also a constantly-shifting layer of creepy sexual politics that adds a nice spice to the stew.

Despite some clear and intermittent slow spots, Caught Inside offers just enough that's new, amidst lots of material that's not, and is, at the very least, rather professionally constructed and handsomely presented. With its familiar plot threads and generally predictable characters, Caught Inside certainly doesn't eclipse the flick it borrows from, but certainly works well enough if you're hard up for a shiny new maritime thriller.