The film begins as four criminals make a failed attempt to rob a pharmaceutical company. When one of the four is shot and killed, the remaining three – Dottore, Blade, and 32 – speed off with the cops following close behind. When they arrive at a parking garage, they take three hostages: an older man named Riccardo and his dying son, as well as a woman named Maria, who just happens to show up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Riccardo informs the criminals that he is in a hurry to get his son to the hospital, but the leader of the group, Dottore, forces him to drive at gunpoint, while the two hoodlums in the back proceed to humiliate Maria, who is in shock and going out of her mind.
Dottore promises Riccardo that no harm will come to any of them, as long as he can take them to their getaway. The tension builds and builds throughout, as the villains reveal just how depraved they really are. This is strong stuff, ladies and gentlemen. Mario Bava considered this has most important film, and it’s easy to see why. The film has been stripped of Bava’s usual stylistic trademarks, bringing a sense of gritty reality to the material that we see. We genuinely want to see these evil characters get their comeuppance, and we want to see Riccardo, his son, and Maria make it out alive.
Just when I thought that I knew where the film was going, it would take a different path that I hadn’t expected, which was both a good and a bad thing. Good because the film tries its best to avoid cliches, and bad because I was so tense during the majority of the film that I was depending on predictability as some sort of safety net. This is a testament to how unrelenting the film is. In fact, it reminded me of Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left. It is repulsive from start to finish and just doesn’t let up.
Just when you think that things couldn’t get any worse, Mario Bava pulls a spectacularly evil twist right out of left field just before the credits roll. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Kidnapped is definitely a change of pace for Mario Bava. I’ve only seen a handful of his films, but this one is definitely the strongest, in my opinion. The acting is incredible from everyone in the cast, and as he did for A Bay of Blood, Stelvio Cipriani has composed another memorable film score. If you can handle the no- holds-barred intensity, I recommend Kidnapped.