Generic but mildly enjoyable, this made-for-TV thriller explores the threadbare premise of a man getting stuck inside a department store and battling vicious Dobermans that a security company unleashes inside the store overnight. A few scenes comprise vapid melodrama about the man’s relationship with his young daughter and his embittered ex-wife, but most of the screen time features star James Brolin either running from dogs, using makeshift weapons to push the animals away, or extricating himself from close encounters. Here’s the setup, such as it is. Chuck (Brolin) meets his ex, Elaine (Susan Clark), and their preteen daughter, Carrie (Tammy Harrington), in a department store so Chuck can purchase Carrie a going-away gift, because Elaine and her new husband, David Moore (Earl Holliman), are about to move overseas. They’re taking Carrie with them, much to Chuck’s chagrin. Old resentments spark an argument, with Carrie caught in the middle, and the fight ends with a promise to reconvene at the airport for a more civil goodbye. Chuck lingers at the store to await the delivery of an out-of-stock toy, but he gets mugged in the men’s room, so he’s unconscious at closing time. While he’s out, dogs are set loose.
Thereafter, the movie cuts between canine-suspense sequences and vignettes of Carrie moping about her missing dad. Nice guy David insists on tracking Chuck down, lest Carrie blame him for her father’s absence. Decent movies have arisen from material this simplistic, but Trapped (sometimes known as Doberman Patrol) still manages to underwhelm. The script is hackneyed and the acting is serviceable. Brolin, for instance, evidences his usual shortcomings. In conversational scenes, he’s enjoyably charming and macho, but whenever he tries for a big emotional display, his facial expressions turn cartoonish. Holliman is characteristically vapid, while Clark’s likable grit isn’t enough to significantly move the quality-control needle. As for the dog action, it’s okay. Seeing big animals perform simple stunts lacks novelty, and the money-shot scenes—Brolin fending Dobermans off with a handmade torch, a nasty-looking dog climbing along a thin railing to chase Brolin, and so on—pale in comparison to similar moments in bigger-budgeted productions.