The movies have often conjured up scenarios in which our core character finds themselves in a predicament that involves claustrophobia and an immense sense of dread. This in turn sucks us in as an audience, with the circumstances of their captivity often the driving force for us to continue watching and the sheer emotional weight on the character often providing the most magnetic of viewing. One such film looking to capture this very essence is Warren Dudley’s Cage, presenting a nightmarish vision of a woman held in a cage against her will and looking for a way to escape through any means necessary.
Gracie Blake (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) is a Seattle-based chat line employee who soon finds herself with one specific caller looking to meet her in person. Initially dismissing any notion of meeting a client, Gracie eventually decides to accept the offer in the hope that she finally put behind her financial woes. As one would expect, this scenario does not end well, with Gracie next waking up to find that she has been captured inside a wooden cage and chained up by her captor (Patrick Bergin).
With her client contacting her regularly by phone, Gracie is supplied regularly with food and water but goes to all possible lengths to escape this hell. With access to her mobile phone, she proceeds to look for help from her partner while also hiding the fact that she has been captured from her worried parents. As a camera watches her every move, Gracie’s survival clock slowly runs down and her options become limited – can she survive this terrifying ordeal or will she be left for dead?
Cage deserves a lot of praise for its sheer originality and refreshing take on this age-old scenario that we’ve seen in various iterations in years gone by. It could have been very easy for director Warren Dudley to head down such a similar path as these particular movies, but instead he proceeds with a story that feels unique in its own right and wholly refreshing, especially considering the fact that the familiar pitfalls are often so easy to fall down.
Such a movie focused on one particular location and individual can be hard to maintain throughout its duration and, while Cage does intermittently feel a little off-kilter and slow, the majority of the film does grab the attention with its stark tension and unfolding plot that features a favourable number of twists and turns along the way. While the ongoing story is indeed solid, huge plaudits must go to the only visible star of the movie, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, who commands the screen from the get-go and really sells the whole ordeal to the greatest degree. Here is an actress who defines the emotion and trauma of such a situation, shedding tears and pleading directly to us as an audience as she looks to free herself from this terrifying prison. With such a strong performance, Quinlan is able to instantly connect with us, her background involving her various family members solidified in the mind and providing that all-important depth to her as a character and giving multiple reasons as to why we should be caring about this woman.
Impressive too is the voice work of Patrick Bergin, providing a dark and dangerous voice of warning to Gracie throughout and never reaching the point of becoming over-exuberant or annoying. The use of his character at key moments is essential and it takes a level of expertise to sell a character who never appears on screen – Bergin does exactly that with gusto. Even to the point of the closing stages of the film where a huge moment occurs and our perception of him as a character may well change.
Featuring an exceptional leading performance and an air of originality, Cage is a surprising treat of a thriller, often serving us some out-of-nowhere twists and maintaining a good level of drama and thrills. Lucy-Jane Quinlan is outstanding and Patrick Bergin’s voice work is a nice accompaniment and, while sometimes a little frustrating in its pacing, this is a film that is well worth spending time with.
Cage is available via Amazon Prime from 3rd April.