Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) runs a local remodeling and repairs business, lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and their two children Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and Anna (Erin Gerasimovich). It’s Thanksgiving Day and they’re about to walk up the street to have dinner with their best friends Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), his wife Nancy (Viola David) and their two children Eliza (Zoe Borde) and their youngest daughter Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons). Earlier that morning Keller a religious and protective man was out hunting with his son Ralph. He shot a large deer after saying a prayer before he actually pulled the trigger later sharing some venison with the Birch family.
Ralph and Eliza had taken a walk with the girls in the neighborhood and noticed a large RV parked in front of a vacant home. When the girls started to play on it they soon realized that someone was inside. Later after dinner the girls have gone missing and the parents suspect that the RV is the answer to the girl’s whereabouts. When Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the local police track down the RV they find a strange young man inside by the name of Alex Jones (Paul Dano) who the authorities believe is tied into the disappearance of the girls. Alex lives with his Aunt Holly (Melissa Leo) who explains to Detective Loki that Alex has the IQ of a ten year old and in no way could have caused any harm to anyone. Keller believes different and one night after he sees Alex walking his Aunt’s dog and abusing it he kidnaps Alex and tortures him in an old abandoned building in hopes of getting a confession.
Detective Loki is known for solving all of his cases and is determined to solve this one as soon as possible since the survival of the girls is based on time. Loki is looking for answers as he visits some known sexual predators in the area. First stop Father Patrick Dunn (Len Cariou) who happens to be part of the maze of questions leading up to the location of the girls, dead or alive. Later Loki stumbles upon a very creepy man, Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian) at a candle light vigil for the girls. The chase is on as Loki tracks down Taylor looking for answers eventually finding more than he bargained for at his residential home. It’s not until the very end of the story that all the characters within this creepy Conyers, Pennsylvania maze find their answers only a whistle away at 1634.
This is a very long film but I must say it kept my attention from beginning to end even though the ending was not my absolute favorite. Far from a hole in one but still for the most part suspenseful and intriguing making you think, what if? The story is every parent’s nightmare and one that I witnessed as a child when two friends of mine and were kidnapped eventually found dead by the hands of a psychotic murderer. So I can truly relate to the story which is very well directed and written but it is the actors that truly bring this creepy yet very believable story to life.
Jackman is hands down brilliant, making you feel every emotional connection to this potentially true life scenario. Rage to sorrow, pain to prayer, questions to answers Jackman truly projects a stellar performance on the screen and can truly be in the light of another Oscar nod. Not far behind Jackman is Gyllenhaal who happens to portray a detective with conviction for the truth no matter what he finds out along the way. Davis, Bello, Howard stand out as great supporting actors and really help move the story along. Minette, Borde, Gerasimovich and Simmons do not have huge roles but are just as pivotal to the story line as is Leo who I did not recognize. Dano really shines playing the role of creepy and strange quite well as he continues to get tortured by Jackman’s character while in search of answers to find the missing girls. I have to say that the film definitely kept my attention and the slight suggestion of Alex as an animal abuser and possible human abuser has much truth to the pattern of a potential serial killer. If one thing can be said there are many strange people in this world and parents you need to keep a close eye on your children at all times. Written and still a bit squeamish with three and a half paws out of four by Jon Patch.