A young married couple stop at local hotel on their way back home from the hospital, their trip takes a turn for the worst when two men break into their hotel room and kidnap them. This is just the beginning of their nightmare, as they are brought into the seedy underworld of blackmarket slave-trading where people are beaten and tortured into submission by their captors. What fate awaits them is unknown, but death maybe the easiest way out.
I was lucky enough to receive a screener for Ryan Cavalline and 4th Floor Pictures' latest movie, "Stockholm Syndrome". While this is the first movie I've seen of Cavalline's, he is no stranger to low-budget horror movies as he has been writing, producing, and directing features since 2002. He is most well known for his horror-comedy series, "The Dead Body Man", though this time around Cavalline has departed from the comedy and has made a pure horror-exploitation flick, that most will be pleasantly surprised with.
The title "Stockholm Syndrome" maybe a little misleading as the movie is actually about a man and his pregnant wife who are abducted by a group of people who are involved with a slave-trading business. It does go a bit into the actual disorder in which we watch the head boss behind the business, humiliate one of his female captives infront of some thugs by having her strip down, piss herself, and then lick the urine off the floor. The movie does provide other victims being tortured, such as that, but it's really all about the young couple and the nightmare that they've been dragged into. This is where it gets nasty; while the couple are being "processed", the wife begins to have problems with her pregnancy. (I guess getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly will do that to you.) Where an attempt to save her, a doctor decides to terminate the pregnancy. Yes, that means an abortion sequence. Though it gets kicked up a notch by having the doctor use nothing but a hanger...Without question, the most effective and well done scene in the movie as it is not so much about what is shown, but rather the idea of what's going on is what will get to people. Not to say it isn't graphic, which it is, since after the baby is ripped out the "doctor" (I don't know what kind of doctor he is, I didn't see a PhD on the wall.) is kind enough to put the dead fetus next to its mother. It doesn't stop there though, but I will since I don't want to spoil the scene anymore than I already have.
There are more sequences of torture that falls upon the couple and other slaves, including having a priest show up to cleanse the soul of one of the slave girls. I won't go into the details, I'll let your imagination fill in the rest until you're able to see the movie for yourself. From here on, the movie changes gears and goes from being about a slave-trader to a slave-owner, one that lives in an isolated location out in the woods where he can torture them to death with out any troubles. Which, unfortunately, just happens to be where the husband ends up and the real trouble begins.
Since I haven't seen any of Cavalline's other movies, I really didn't know what to expect from the movie, I saw the trailer for it and thought it looked promising to which I definitely wasn't disappointed with. As I've said before, the term low-budget is used to loosely these days, but "Stockholm Syndrome" is a true low-budget flick. I'm not sure what the budget was, I can't imagine it was much, regardless it was a well executed movie that made full use of what was available and had some rather impressive gore sequences. Most notably the abortion scene, but also the severing of limbs, the removal of entrails, etc. While the gore was fun, what really stood out for me was how well it was shot, Cavalline who also operated the camera, was not afraid to use unusual angles from time to time but just the overall cinematography was done very well. Which was a breath of fresh air compared to some of his fellow low-budget horror peers.
The movie does have its flaws, all do, but what hurt the movie the most was acting. Now I know, you know, we all know that with any low-budget project the acting isn't going to be the best and horror movies in general have never had the best acting in them. So this is really just nitpicking, but it would have been helped out since the bad acting takes you out of the movie, which keeps the subject matter from packing the punch that it could. Not to say all of the actors did a bad job, most of the female slaves actually did good job, but it's hard to care for any lead characters or be intimidated by any of the bad-guys when you are to busy being distracted by a shoddy performance.
In the end though, it may not be the most technically sound low-budget movie you'll see but it is a good movie. It kept up a good pace and never dragged, evenly distributed scenes of gore and torture so it doesn't become too much or too little. Accompany that with some good cinematography and a nice little score, and you've got yourself a worthwhile exploitation horror flick.