The insidiousness of solitary confinement is in its simplicity. You provide a person with food, water, shelter and physical safety while you deprive them of human interaction.
In small doses this doesn’t sound especially cruel (and some days it sounds like a dream vacation), but as the minutes, hours, days, weeks and months pile up the mental strain becomes torturous.
The movie “Caged” explores the psychological brutality of solitary confinement on Harlow Reid (Edi Gathegi), a psychiatrist imprisoned for killing his wife – a crime he may, or may not be guilty of.
Harlow learns his attorneys have dropped his case just as he lands in solitary confinement where he is tormented by heartless corrections officer Sacks (Melora Hardin).
As time goes on, Harlow starts to break down to the point that he’s not even sure of his guilt or innocence as he is haunted by visions of his dead wife, Amber (Angela Sarafyan).
Writer/director Aaron Fjellman does an excellent job of delivering a terrifying and disorienting portrayal of solitary confinement, brought home by Gathegi’s bare-knuckled performance.
Beyond that though, “Caged” doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer. There’s not much of a plot and the “did he or didn’t he” mystery of Harlow’s case doesn’t seem to really matter all that much in the end.
There’s even some tacked on commentary at the end about how solitary confinement is still used in the American prison system and its real-life effect on inmates. This would land a little harder if we hadn’t just set through a grueling 81 minutes of a hyper-stylized take on the subject. It would be like if “Inglorious Basterds” ended with a lot of sobering statistics about the Holocaust. Factual yes, but not really the point of the whole exercise.
“Caged” is really only worth your time if you want to experience how much solitary confinement sucks. If that is a conclusion you’ve already come to in life, feel free to skip it.
Caged is not rated but features language, violent, disturbing images and sexual situations.