A group of surfers venture to a secluded Indonesian island paradise discovered by legendary surfer Bull (Ben Oxenbould) on the 'surfari' of their lives, on a hire boat skippered by (Peter Phelps). Ill advisedly, Toobs (Simon Lyndon) and his girlfriend Alex (Leeanna Walsman) bring Alex's pretty single friend Sam (Daisy Betts). As sexual rivalry between Rob (Sam Lyndon) and Bull boils over and friendships fall to the side, Bull becomes increasingly aggressive and unhinged.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's predictable and obvious (eg, a bull-like psycho called Bull), but Caught Inside sticks to its genre conventions so tightly it looks like insurance. It's the 'powderkeg thriller' template in which a small group is physically constrained within a small space - a boat - and a single spark (raw sexual conflict in this case) sets off a chain of disasters.
The formula is familiar enough, so what matters is how well the filmmakers tell the story and how fresh they can make it. Director and co-writer Adam Blaiklock handles the material with craftsmanship, but the film lacks the real freshness to make it stand out. The surf footage is great but the film's opening sequences are overrun by the score and a sense of trying too hard to create the mood.
Although superbly played by Ben Oxenbould, Bull is a rather derivative psycho, the smiling and callous brute whose smarmy charms are meant to provide a surface gloss for his vicious nature. He is surrounded by the usual suspects - men ranging from naïve to wimpy, and two women who provide the fear fodder for the filmmakers. Leeanna Walsman as Alex and Daisy Betts as bait for the Bull, Sam, are also excellent in limited roles; Betts at least has one good scene to work with near the film's end, which poses all sorts of moral questions.
Peter Phelps gives an authoritative and thoroughly credible performance as the skipper, and Sam Lyndon makes the dull Rob as interesting as he can.
But the film obviously plays well to audiences: in 2010 it won an Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival, as well as the Independent Spirit Award at the Inside Film Awards.
First published in the Sun-Herald
Review by Louise Keller:
The mystery of human behaviour is a fascinating topic, which is good reason for many screenwriters to explore different situations and reactions. Putting a group of strangers together in close quarters is a familiar theme and a surefire way of creating tension as it offers the potential for extreme behaviour. It helps too, if the setting is isolated with no one around to help. Using this formula, the filmmakers of Caught Inside have concocted a story in which a misogynist turns a tropical surfing trip in the Maldives on the boat The Hedonist into a terror ride.
However, Caught Inside gets caught in the web of its own making and delivers what is strictly formulaic cinema. Sex becomes the bait and trigger. It may give the audience exactly what it promises (the film won the 2010 Sydney Film Festival Audience Award), but there is nothing new here and there are few surprises in the exposition.
In its favour, the film provides a dramatic showcase for Ben Oxenbould's violent, irrational Bull, whose obsession for Sam (Daisy Betts), the flirtatious bikini babe with a reputation for promiscuity explodes into ugliness. Director Adam Blaiklock creates a good ambience, making full use of the claustrophobic interiors of the boat and the beautiful locations. Betts convinces us that Sam is someone who seemingly does not know the effect she is having on the men around her and Harry Cook is endearing as Grom, who shares a cabin with Bull. Peter Phelps is as good as ever - credible here as Skipper Joe ('Don't call me Skip; I'm not a kangaroo').
On its own terms, much of the film works and a brooding, tense mood is built up with uneasy moments and some scars. Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that it is not simply one event that unhinges Bull, but relies on inferences and nuances - something to which any audience can relate.
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CAUGHT INSIDE (MA15+)
CAST: Ben Oxenbould, Daisy Betts, Sam Lyndon, Simon Lyndon, Leeanna Walsman, Harry Cook, Peter Phelps
PRODUCER: Paul S. Freedmann
DIRECTOR: Adam Blaiklock
SCRIPT: Joe Velikovsky, Matt Tomaszewski & Adam Blaiklock
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Damian Wyvill
EDITOR: Louise Kan
MUSIC: Tom Schutzinger
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eli Faen
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Ent
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 6, 2011