She’s not crazy. Jill may be determined, may be obsessive, may even be a little broken. But she’s not crazy.
It’s just that nobody believes her. Before her compulsive behavior. Before the meds. Before the stint in the mental hospital. She really was abducted by some unseen guy. He really did drag her into the woods, throw her into a pit and almost kill her. And she just barely escaped with her life. Really.
The cops and everybody else think it’s all in her head. They think that’s why she has no friends. It explains why she’s been religiously taking self-defense classes. Why she constantly looks poised to strike anyone who draws near. And why she spends almost every minute of her spare time systematically pacing her way through every square foot of Portland’s 5,000 acres of forest parkland looking for that pit. And that guy.
None of it matters now, though, because he’s back and he’s taken her sister Molly. Really! Jill came home after working the night shift at the diner and Molly was gone. With no note. No anything.
Yeah, here it comes. The police want her to calm down and give it time. Molly may be at a friend’s house, they say. Or she may have slipped off the wagon, gotten drunk again and passed out somewhere. But that’s not it. Can’t they see? He really is back!
He came looking for her and snatched Molly instead. And if someone doesn’t do something, her sister could be killed by nightfall. The police can tell her to calm down and give her all their weak excuses for not doing anything. They can pat her on the head and tell her to “get some sleep.” But Jill’s not going to obediently take her brain-numbing pills and wait. Not this time. This time … she’ll sleep when he’s dead!
From the very beginning it’s evident that Jill is an obsessively driven individual who wants to see justice prevail. And it’s not just because she was the victim once. She treks through the forest looking for any sign of where she was held. And she collects articles on other missing girls in an effort to make the police aware.
She’s also fiercely loyal to Molly. In fact, outside of Jill’s work acquaintances, Molly is pretty much the only person connecting Jill to the world around her. And for Molly’s part, it’s clear that she’s been living with Jill to help her out and try to steer her back into a healthy set of friendships.
So when Molly goes missing, Jill puts everything on the line—from her freedom to her life—to save her. At one point she even purposely walks into a trap to hopefully help her abducted sibling. It’s an easy argument to make that she goes too far in all of this (more on that later), but no one can fault her for her (original) motivations.
While Jill showers, the camera lingers on her silhouetted form seen through the shower curtain. After meeting the pretty Jill, a new cop comments to his superior that she could come sleep over at his house. The other officer rebuffs him for “chasing split tail” and tells him to get his mind right. A beat cop talks to his female partner about “banging” his wife’s sister. Jill pushes her way into a male student’s room in search of her sister and finds a naked man in the guy’s bed (covered by a sheet from the waist down). Jill and her sister both wear formfitting tank tops.
Throughout the film we watch flashback scenes of Jill gagged and bound with duct tape. We later see her sister and pictures of several other victims who’ve been taped up in the same manner. While in the pit, Jill uncovers shattered bones and pieces of hair and scalp from other women. And she manages to plunge a sharp bone into her attacker’s shoulder.
[Spoiler Warning] When Jill finally finds her abductor’s camp, she’s thrown 10 feet or so down onto the pit’s dirt floor. The man comes down after her and tosses her around a little before she shoots him in the chest. It doesn’t kill him. So she proceeds to torture him with another bullet to the leg to get information about her sister. And then she pours kerosene over him and burns him alive (off camera).
Jill shoots a lock off a window to escape the police. A guy reports that his girlfriend thinks someone has “rapey” eyes.
One f-word, a half-dozen s-words and a couple uses each of “a‑‑,” “h‑‑‑” and “b‑‑ch.” God’s and Jesus’ names are together misused six or seven times. We hear crude slang for sexual acts and organs.
Jill has a number of prescribed pills that we see her regularly take. And early on she offers her sister any “ups, downs or sideways” she might need while studying. Jill says, “What’s a few meds between sisters?” Molly declines.
Molly’s boyfriend tells Jill that a guy in her sister’s class was always trying to get her to smoke weed. It’d implied that Molly has had a past problem with alcohol.
We see that the killer has used hypodermic needles on his victims.
Jill lies at every turn in her attempts to track down clues. She speeds to outrun the police. And she threatens several people with an illegal .38 caliber pistol.
No superpowers or twisted spirituality in this one. No hatchets or machetes. No huge body count. Gone is just a middle-of-the-road, moody mystery with a thick layer of suspense, lots of close-ups of frightened eyes and an ever-present ticking clock.
It purposely tells us as little as possible about its characters at first and raises more questions than answers. Are the police covering something up? Is the missing sis just out on a binge? Is Jill an unstable person with a penchant for weaving lies? Or is there really a terrifying guy snatching defenseless women from their beds in the dark of night?
Of course, a query-filled thriller has to turn the corner at some point. And that’s where Gone starts to lose its footing. Foul language flourishes as increasingly outlandish, irrational and illegal choices are made. And then Jill morphs from scared-but-determined justice-hunter to vicious vigilante. And you wonder if she’s ever actually been as interested in the rescue as in deadly revenge.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.