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Gone

release date 15/12/2006

Littered with enough red herrings to exceed European fishing quotas, Gone is a serpentine thriller about an emotionally scarred woman who is doubted by everyone around her.

Even we are invited to question her sanity and scriptwriter Allison Burnett goes out of his way to populate every frame with creepy supporting characters, such as one suspect who is described as having "rapey eyes", or the cop who is oddly attracted to the heroine's spiralling paranoia. "She can move in with me - I like 'em a bit crazy!" he jokes inappropriately. The ambiguous motives of almost everyone in the film gradually wears us down until we stop caring whether the young woman was really snatched in the dead of night, or whether it was all a figment of her twisted imagination.

By the time Burnett engineers his finale, everything teeters precariously on a meagre trail of evidentiary breadcrumbs that delivers the lead character to at a remote location at precisely the right moment to face her demons. Yet the plucky heroine accomplishes the seemingly impossible, popping pills to keep her anxiety at bay while waving an illegal firearm at anyone who stands in her path and driving frantically around the busy roads of her hometown. At the very least, she deserves a speeding ticket. Jill Parrish (Amanda Seyfried) was abducted from her home, bound with tape and left in a deep hole in the middle of Forest Park in Oregon.

Miraculously, Jill escaped her knife-wielding abductor but when police scoured the miles of dense undergrowth, they could find no trace of the hole supposedly containing the bones of other victims. Nor was there any DNA evidence on Jill to confirm her chilling story. With everyone doubting her version of events, Jill was consigned to a psychiatric facility then released into the care of her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham). One year to the day after her alleged ordeal, Jill returns home from a late shift at a cafe to discover that Molly has vanished without trace.

Jill is convinced that her assailant has returned and she begs Detectives Powers (Daniel Sunjata) and Lonsdale (Katherine Moennig) to launch an immediate search. They dismiss her crazed pleas, as does Lieutenant Bozeman (Michael Pare). Only new cop on the block Detective Hood (Wes Bentley) seems intrigued by the possibility of deja vu. Gone is a tepid genre piece undone by a script that heaps one preposterous contrivance atop another.

Seyfried is sympathetic as a woman on the verge of a breakdown, and she delivers a better performance than Heitor Dhalia's film deserves. However, we're not emotionally invested in Jill because the hairpin twists leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. There's nothing scary about the completely outlandish.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2006, All Rights Reserved.



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