It’s New Year’s Day, and Kristen Welling and her boyfriend are planning to spend part of the evening at her father’s cafe/bar, cleaning up after last night’s festivities. Kristen’s boyfriend drops her off to go park the car while she goes inside to get started. But he ends up taking much longer than expected, and not long after arriving Kristen starts to get a series of increasingly disturbing phone calls. She thinks it’s just some psycho stalker who knows WAY too much about her life. But as the evening progresses she slowly starts to realize that she’s in a much more precarious situation than she initially suspected.
Kristen, AKA Trapped, is a Dutch horror/thriller from 2015. It’s the kind of movie that simultaneously feels predictable, yet likes to also try to subvert your expectations. Because you start the movie thinking you’re about to watch a certain type of film, only for the movie to change course on you at several points throughout its runtime in order to keep you on your toes. And the ultimate conclusion it comes to is probably going to feel really divisive. Meaning, this is the type of movie that you’re likely to either like, or really, really hate.
I think I should emphasize that this is also the type of film that is the poster child for the moniker of “slow burn”. The beginning of the film feels very, very slow. It’s just Kristen and her boyfriend talking, and then Kristen walking around the shop doing various chores and cleaning things up, and the most exciting thing to happen during this entire section is when she insults the shop’s pet fish. So that’s probably going to turn a lot of people off right there. But after a certain point it does pick up the pace, it’s just that that pace also happens to be rather sluggish, though it does have its moments in-between and it does eventually get there. Just note that this is the type of movie that moves at its own time frame, and it doesn’t care what you want, thank you very much, I’ll do what I want.
And again, even when the movie does get there, and it’ll drop little hints about it’s destination along the way to clue you in, I can already guarantee that a lot of people aren’t going to be keen regarding the subject matter. So be prepared for that. And if by chance you are keen to it, I should also note that this ends up being the kind of film that is wildly open to interpretation. Is this real? Is this fake? No idea. There will be no hand-holding throughout or explanations given at the end. You get to figure out what it all means all by your little lonesome. But hey, if you don’t know what’s going on, don’t worry about it. If you walk away confused you’re not alone. I guarantee no one else 100% knows what’s going on either.
Other than the pacing and the subject matter though, the film is actually a very solid little production. It’s shot well and looks nice, and the singular location of the bar/cafe makes the atmosphere feel genuinely isolated and claustrophobic. The effects utilized are mostly practical, though there are a couple of moments of CGI that can look a little wonky. But those moments are fleeting and used sparingly, so it’s not too bad.
The highlight though, is probably the acting. Though there are other characters, the film is essentially a one woman show starring Terence Schreurs, who pulls in a pretty powerful performance of the fragile, yet determined Kristen. You just feel increasingly bad for her as the film progresses, because this is not a character you’re meant to hate. Kristen is just a likable, everyday type of person doing everything right in this situation she’s been put in, and acting accordingly. And then once you finally figure out what’s really going on you feel even worse for her, because… well… ultimately there really isn’t much of anything she can do, no matter how spunky or determined she may be. It’s all sort of just up to fate and the whims of the other party at play, and Schreurs reacts to everything about as believably as can be expected.
I really can’t think of anything else to say about Kristen without giving away crucial plot twists. It’s a fine slow-burn thriller/horror with good acting and decent production values. But the pacing is slow and I just know that it’s the kind of film whose ending is going to turn a lot of people off. So basically it’s not great, but it’s fine and I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it, but I know it’s not going to be for everyone. I’m sorry. I know that’s vague. But so is the film, so I guess it fits. If you like slow-burn thriller-like films you might like this…or you might not. I don’t know. I’m still trying to process.
Kristen is available on a variety of streaming services.
I’m not sure if it’s been released physically or not.