Subsequent to Michelle Knight's kidnapping Ariel then kidnapped Amanda Berry on April 21, 2003 and Gina DeJesus on April 02, 2004. The film focuses mainly on the relationship between the dominant kidnapper Ariel Castro (played by Raymond Cruz) and his first victim Michelle Knight (played by Taryn Manning). The film does more than an adequate job in the 90 minutes made available to capture the imprisonment of the three young girls and how Ariel Castro first physically and then mentally subjected his kidnapping victims to torture to the point that they knew if they even attempted to escape they would receive a beating.
Fortunately for the films viewers we were spared any vivid graphic violence and rape of the three girls. Actor Raymond Cruz recently starred in the multi Emmy winning series Breaking Bad as drug kingpin Tuco Salamanca. For those of you who have watched Breaking Bad you will be familiar with Tuco's violent and crazy side so when I first heard that Raymond Cruz was playing the role of the vile Ariel Castro I was a bit concerned that the film may include some gratuitous violence as it was in Raymond Cruz's capacity as an actor to emulate this scum of the earth kidnapper Ariel Castro. Fortunately the director Alex Kalymnios chose to maintain a factual film theme and limit the depiction of the hundreds of rapes and beatings that Ariel Castro subjected his victims to.
This 90 minute film also does a good job of encapsulating the friendship and feeling of family the three girls shared which most likely made it a bit more bearable under the circumstances of being chained, beaten and repeatedly raped. As in the actual events we get to see how Amanda Berry gave birth to Ariel Castro's daughter with the assistance of Michelle Knight who was threatened with death if she did not succeed in ensuring Amanda's baby lived.
It is sad to realize that Castro's first victim, Michelle Knight was considered a runaway and very little was done to look for her as she was 21 years old at the time of her abduction. The press and police had communicated publicly that she most likely chose on her own accord to disappear as she had lost custody of her son to the state. Taryn Manning who played Michelle Knight made the audience feel how a kidnapped victim may have despaired as the years progressed and the abuse continued. In fact the film also depicts how Ariel Castro beat Michelle up when he felt she was pregnant with his child and so he ensured Michelle would abort the fetus by hitting her in the stomach with a barbell and kicking her in the stomach.
This is both a film about hopelessness, family by circumstances, and the evil of men with no conscience. Castro was arrested on May 06, 2013, more than 10 years and 8 months since he first abducted Michelle Knight. As mentioned earlier the films run time was only approximately 90 minutes and maybe the producers could have provided more in depth of the psyche of both the perpetrator Ariel Castro and the victims at the time of their abduction who were Michelle Knight (21), Amanda Berry (she turned 17 the day after her abduction) and the youngest and last of his victims Gina Dejesus (14) had the film been produced as a 4 or 6 hour mini-series.
I felt the producers did a very good job in providing the facts of this 11 year case history. Remember when Castro was arrested on May 06, 2013, CNN news carried the story almost exclusively for the next two weeks, 24 hours a day. No one could believe that not one but "THREE" young girls who were missing and presumed dead for years were being held prisoners less than 3 miles from their own homes. By the end of the film it leaves us with the question if Ariel Castro deliberately wanted to get caught and so he neglected to lock the front door because he was behind on his mortgage payments, could not afford to feed his 3 captors and his child, and after close to eleven years of maintaining a prison in his home he had just had enough of the lies, beatings and rapes that he had been responsible for.
This is a tragic but true story that covers a lot of abuse and actual events that the kidnapper Ariel Castro was able to hide from his own children, his band mates who actually practiced as a band in his home, and his two brothers who were initially also arrested under the assumption that they had to have known about the kidnappings and 10 year imprisonment when in fact Ariel was able to keep everyone fooled including his own family by keeping locks on the basement door as well as the upstairs bedrooms and by sealed windows.
I hope the victims benefit financially from this film and if so I recommend the film to parents and children alike to ensure one of the films messages is clear. That message being if you are getting in to someone's vehicle make sure your family knows where you are going and with whom you are going. I give this true story a 7 out of 10 rating.