About: I know nothing about “Kept” other than that it showed up at my door with a note. “Read this or die.” I decided I wanted to live so I read it.
Writer: Jayson Rothwell
Have you ever gone out with a girl who’s physically out of your league? And you two are moseying along. You can’t believe how lucky you are. And then somewhere in the fourth or fifth week that moment comes. And I think you know what moment I’m talking about. The moment where you realize SHE’S CRAZY! Yeah. Man does that moment suck. My dad taught me an important lesson when I was a kid. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
“Kept” starts out with CHARLIE, a mysterious businessman, sidling into a club, and noticing the jaw-droppingly hot MAXINE all by herself. He discreetly slips off his wedding ring and makes his move. They eventually end up back at her place, drink a little wine, and the next thing he knows Charlie’s woken up with a headache, a mouth full of duct tape, and his arms and feet chained to a bed. It looks like Charlie found out his chick was crazy just a little earlier than the rest of us.
“Kept” keeps this old sub-genre fresh by introducing some unfamiliar elements. Such as everyone else in the apartment complex (all women who have in some way been harmed by men) is just as crazy as Maxine is. Which means Charlie must helplessly endure a barrage of psychos hell-bent on making him suffer as much as possible before his death. There’s an older Asian woman who was a sex slave who keeps jars full of severed penises on her bookshelf. There’s a religious woman who was the victim of family-related sexual abuse. There’s a 92 year old freakshow named Bea who’s killed so many husbands she’s lost count. And these are the normal ones.
But Maxine’s the most fucked up of all. She truly possesses an inner rage and not a lick of mercy. She’s been doing this for years, videotaping all of the men she’s killed and the horrible ways in which she’s killed them, apparently for a movie she’s making (Sundance ’11?) She revels in showing Charlie the moment when all the previous men broke down. So she becomes increasingly agitated when Charlie is able to handle whatever is thrown at him. There’s something different about him and she wants to get to the bottom of it.
She snags his suitcase and goes through it in front of him. What she finds is that Charlie is actually a killer too! A hitman to be precise. And Maxine takes delight in the irony of seeing him on the other side of the hit. The problem is that Maxine underestimates Charlie, and it ends up being her undoing. Or does it?
Besides the cartoonish nature of the script, it’s a fun-as-hell read. The thing flies by. And you’re genuinely interested in whether Charlie will escape or not. There are, however, three fairly big problems I had with the script. If this movie is made, I’d prefer to have one or two of them taken care of.
The first is when Maxine finds out Charlie is a killer. She doesn’t even react. I mean the odds of two killers finding each other accidentally is astronomical. So when she sees Charlie has killed people, just like her, her passee reaction really hurts the credibility of her character.
Secondly, one of the things Maxine can’t shut up about is men who cheat. Men who have it all. The perfect wife. The perfect house. Two children. And they’re willing to risk it all by fucking some random woman – which she claims is why she’s punishing him. She saw him remove his ring that night. However, midway through the script, we learn that Charlie is actually a widower, that his wife is dead. So the way the writer deals with Maxine receiving this information is to have her not understand at first. And barely acknowledge it when it becomes obvious. This conveniently allows her to continue torturing Charlie, when in actuality, if she’s staying true to her character, she would’ve realized that she made a mistake.
The last problem I had was when Chalie escapes and decides to, a la William Wallace, get even with these bitches one by one. The way Maxine reacts to this is completely ridiculous. She turns into Hans Gruber and vows to “take this motherfucker down.” Lets be real here. Maxine may be a professional torturer. But Charlie is a trained killer. That’s like Kobe taking on Urkle. Give me a break.
But because the script embraces its cartoonish tone, I’m ultimately willing to forgive these things. It is a fun ride. And I’ll be honest, this script gave me fucking nightmares. I haven’t had nightmares about a film since I was ten and I thought that skeleton from Tales of Crypt was going to sneak into my room and kill me. I will certainly be thinking twice before going home with any super hot girls from now on. The lesson to learn from all this? If it’s too good to be true…you’re probably dead.
What I learned from Kept: Look for ways to create new twists on an old genre. We’ve seen the person who wakes up and is being held captive before. But Kept throws a few wrinkles into the equation. It’s a woman holding a man captive. She lives in a complex where everyone helps her. All of this made the script unique and unexpected, essential if you want to stand out from the crowd.