I should really thank the reviewers for lowering my expectations, and then myself for not caring about reviews or rather, for reading between their lines.
I am very content with this movie: story is good, atmosphere and music are used effectively. Few things are overdone.
Here is why this movie is realistic:
- Yes, there are vigilante religious nuts who take it upon themselves to punish people.
- Yes, "survivors" are made of selfishness and apathy. Kudos for that observation, that was fantastic. To survive, you have to adapt. To adapt, you have to accept the rules as they are. To accept is to maintain status quo, regardless of what it means for the masses.
It was a Darwinistic world eaons ago and still is, only because humans who draw a thick line between animals and themselves have failed to even want to better it. Surviving in a Darwinistic society tells a lot about you, or the Macchiavelli in you. Not talking about breathing here, obviously.
And just like a survivor does, a beast disguised in feigned innocence slowly unravels its ugly face. You get your hints though: The acting, the manipulation, the utter strength that comes from having no reservations.
The man's getting beaten a couple of times, was, to the contrary very realistic. How so? Well someone who is not accustomed to using violence on a daily basis is inclined to think others aren't, too. In other words, they are not cautious. Especially when they think they have the upper hand. It has nothing to do with your physical strength when you're taken down by surprise.
And because the man in question thinks he can reason with a survivor in some twisted, perceptibly life-threatening environment he put this survivor in, he is actually hoping for a change.
As stated in the movie, he didn't put her there to kill her. He put her there to judge her, force a confrontation, an admission of guilt. He put her there to see why she did what she did, and most of all, if she regrets it.
The captor was fooled into thinking the abductee had her own lines she couldn't cross. She had something human in her.
And in the end of the movie, where the real physical fight starts, we hear her letting the man know of this big mistake: "Did you think I would give it all up for you?"
Actors were in fact good. Scenes of realizations were shot well enough to feel immersive.
Predictability is of little value here. This is not a movie that challenges you to guess who will do what and who will win in the end. This is a psychological thriller movie where the biggest twist is the abrupt change in the transparency of personalities. Denial until the end, and then dropping the act to display one's true colors only when one thinks there is nothing more to be redeemed... is the true nature of a narcissistic suvivor that we all have in us to varying degrees. The build up of tension in the environment towards such breakdown was the perfect setting to render this transformation visible and in a striking manner.
The man carries a gun, but even during his knee-jerk reactions, he doesn't have in himself the selfish recklessness of this survivor of an inexorable woman who knows no bounds. That is why the fights were so realistic. The disbelief with which the man improvises was acted out perfectly by the actor. And same could be said of the actress as she transforms into a monster.
Both characters' actions and choices are wrong to different extents and you still can find yourself rooting for one over the other. That is because evolution made sure we have an inbuilt justice system which we call "conscience". It all sits well in this movie of a fight of altruism vs selfishnessness/sympathy vs apathy.
All this carried out without the torture porn, and still effectively to the point. There's some blood, and a violent scene of fight but I could cite countless movies held in high regard having much more violence in them than this one.
In short this movie is the portrayal of a sociopath versus a normal person going vigilante upon losing it when they yearn for actions to have consequences. Nowhere along the movie was I duped into thinking the movie was about something else. No feeling of being shortchanged.
And for those wondering why such movies are on the rise.My take is: Because we are in an era where we have seen laws selectively working for too long and we have pent up, toxic anger that we try to slowly get rid of our system by seeing a similar story told by someone else. It confirms our sense of justice and helps explain our anger, and draw lessons from what is actually a "simulation".