A Kidnap (2020). Film review of the indie thriller directed by Lee Greenhough

A Kidnap (2020) film still

Thriller/suspense/film noir

star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review by Jason Day of A Kidnap, the indie thriller/suspense about a group of criminals who kidnap two siblings. Starring Tee Morris.

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Adopted twins Lewis (Jacob Cottrell) and Izzy (Eloise Joo) are kidnapped by a trio of criminals: cool and calm Tuco (Tee Morris), young, anxious Angel (Mollie Hindle) and the unhinged Blondie (Imogen Archer).

The threesome’s relationship begins to break down so Lewis and Jacob must dig deep to stay alive as the increasingly psychotic Blondie threatens their lives because of a dark secret she hides.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

A Kidnap (2020) film poster

“A confidently handled feature debut thriller with creepy music, some arresting performances and a fabulously sweary, surprise twist-ending.” CineSocialUK.

CineSocial UK

Pain, sleepless nights, spiraling costs, meeting the demands of multiple, screaming partners, insurance and health and safety considerations and letdowns at the 11th hour.

No, not moving house or becoming a parent, but another event that could hold a candle to those two stressful occurrences – being a filmmaker!

In mainstream, studio-backed cinema, the trials and tribulations listed above can be offset by a production studio, insurance companies, perhaps even a wise clinical psychiatrist.

But imagine if you are an independent filmmaker, operating almost entirely on your own, self-funded/crowd-funded, with no plush shrink to chat over your troubles, but facing exactly the same issues…and then some.

At this point I introduce Lee Greenhough, erstwhile indie film hot shot and radio presenter – of ‘The Film Show’, Radio Plus (of which I am an occasional guest critic) – and someone who is used to creative cinematic headaches as A Kidnap, his feature length film debut, shows.

On the topic of locations and venues – the nightmare scenario from anyone making a movie or staging an event is the location owners getting cold feet and pulling out at the last minute.

I know someone who ran pop-up nightclubs with a Secret Cinema, location-revealed-at-the-last-minute aspect to them and she faced the dread of the rug being pulled from under her by a jittery parish council afraid that wine might be spilled on the floor or curtains ripped off by pissed-up revellers.

Lee faced a similar scenario with A Kidnap. The movie is set in a grimy, urban lock-up which, on the page of his script, adds lashings of gritty, dangerous atmosphere.

Unfortunately the owner of the lockup was not so keen. They pulled out and, with Lee having cast and crew set for filming on specified dates and times, he faced the twin nightmares of letting his cast go and try to get them back at a later date – which may have been months if not more than a year later – or choose an alternative location and carry on as normal as possible.

He went for the latter option which was a sound business decision, but it has obvious drawbacks. The location is now a Coventry college, replete the classroom health and safety signage, room numbers, flip charts and lesson posters.

You have to suspend disbelief here – especially when Tuco says “we are in the middle of nowhere” – because the film is worth watching but the gritty, real-life feel I know Lee was going for, is not there and the film lacks oomph because of this visual loss.

One more thing on the style – the single take set-up. It can add urgency and immediacy to the action but, as you find with Hitchcock’s experiment here (Rope, 1948 which is a leading influence on A Kidnap), the gimmick can wear thin.

IMHO, what’s wrong the skill, the ‘magic’ of film editing?

Greenhough stages a nice creepy opening, with a drone-filmed shot of a car driving up a barren country road. Given the vile threats issued on the soundtrack, it sets the tone perfectly.

Morris is a fine find as the more mentally balanced criminal. My only – slight – criticism is that despite his swaggering bulk and machismo, he seems too physically soft with the women.

Archer is cool as the rather obviously ‘sandwich short of a picnic’ villainess – what a fabulously laid-back, sardonic cow she is, with ubiquitous gun in her back pocket.

See the official A Kidnap website for more.

Cast & credits

Director: Lee Greenhough.

Producers: Lee Greenhough, Paul Horton.
Writer: Lee Greenhough.
Camera: Paul Horton.
Music: Marco Werba.

Tee Morris, Imogen Archer, Mollie Hindle, Jacob Cottrell, Eloise Joo, Daniel Jordan.


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