Directed and Written by Amanda Gusack
Featuring Melissa George, Oded Fehr, Alice Krige, Christian Campbell, Donald Adams, and Scott Heindl
In Memorium, Amanda Gusack’s previous horror film, was a well-shot and amazing venture into psychological horror. Her much bigger budgeted follow up, The Betrayed, is a thriller starring Melissa George which is unfortunately less touching and novel than In Memorium.
Starting out with a Saw-like situation in which mom Jamie wakes up after a car accident to find herself locked in a dungeon-y basement room somewhere, Jamie is then forced by her captors to answer a series of questions about her husband to which she doesn’t know the answers, or her and her son Michael will be killed.
Melissa as 'Jamie', about to get in a planned car accident
A fresh and interesting Melissa George, rocking a brunette ‘do, plays Jamie as a vibrant but shocked woman thrust into a horrible situation. Dark and no-nonsense Alek (Oded Fehr, The Mummy) is the scary criminal-ish guy holding her hostage, who wants only to know where her husband went with his 40 million dollars. Jamie has no idea what he’s talking about – her husband owns a restaurant. But as Alek pushes her, sometimes with mild forms of torture like icy cold showers and pushing on her broken ribs, and sometimes with proof that her husband is a career criminal who has been lying to her for the past 6 years, she realizes she has to help her captors or be a casualty of her husband’s deceit.
Jamie awakes to a cold shower on her broken ribs, in a dirty basement
Producing a box of tape recordings from the past several years from a bug secretly placed in Jamie’s own home, Alek offers her a choice: listen to the recordings and find a clue as to where her husband is and what he’s done with the money, or lose her son. Jamie agrees, and finds herself listening to hours and hours of pointless monotony from the marriage she now knows is a lie, trying desperately to find an impossible clue among the many ordinary moments that are now painful to remember. Don’t forget she’s in a filthy basement, and the creepy dude named Rafe keeps trying to sexually assault her (which isn’t good for her concentration.)
Lots of tapes
It’s a big mess. The first half of the film is fairly gorgeous, despite a cliché beginning and a few characters derived directly out of a Lifetime Original Movie, but the second half seems to have been pieced together from previously shot footage that makes little or no sense in context. Alice Krige makes a very ridiculous appearance as ‘Falco’, the head of the criminal enterprise for whom Jamie’s husband worked. She’s evil and cold, and calculated and straight from a Disney Princess movie where the Wicked Queen is about to keep true love from flourishing. She’s a little absurd. But ‘Falco’ is distinctly referred to, repeatedly, as a man in the first part of the movie. Scenes are cut strangely as well – the action doesn’t flow and the dialogue doesn’t fit sometimes. It really gives the impression that time was running out to get the film finished, and there wasn’t enough money or available footage to make things work any other way.
Alice Krige as 'Falco' and Oded Fehr as 'Alek'
Oded Fehr as Alek is awesome as ‘the kidnapper with a heart of gold’ who plays fair and isn’t afraid to almost fall for Jamie’s gentleness. Despite an extraordinary level of intelligence and character development, the heist/thriller/twisty plot is full of a few too many contrived coincidences and last-second feats of amazement to be remotely believable. To her credit, director Gusack wrote a great story set in one room (literally, the action hardly ever leaves the basement) but didn’t have an answer for facing the limitations such a story would obviously present: how to keep it making sense.
Jamie's husband finally shows up - but is he lying? Who is telling the truth? Wouldn't this scene be funnier if Melissa George had a party-mix peanut embedded in her forehead?
Guscak’s skill with atmosphere is nevertheless compelling, and even if you don’t believe what’s happening, you’ll be drawn into Melissa George’s acting and truly be rooting for a vengeful Jamie once she finds out the truth about her slimy, vile, and loathsome (but totally cute) husband.