Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

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A teen sits at her computer, looking up from the screen.

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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Sixteen-year-old Allison Riley is the picture of perfection to her parents, Case and Joanna Riley. An equestrian with a dream of becoming a veterinarian, Allison is as normal a teenager as you’d ever expect to meet.

But one who’s got an online boyfriend her parents don’t know exist.

And one she’s never actually met. 

One night, Allison sneaks out to meet the guy in person. And what starts as a rebellious act to see a crush turns into the worst day of her life. Soon, Allison is sold to a pimp named “Daddy” and forced into sex trafficking.

Her parents wake up the next day to find their daughter missing. As time passes, they realize something is very wrong. The Riley’s quickly call the police. But when the authorities don’t act fast enough, the couple gets in touch with a private investigator, John Belton, who has a reputation for getting things done … his own way.

Relying on the experience and expertise of Belton Private Investigators, the Rileys battle their greatest fear and pray that their daughter will somehow be found before it’s too late.

Positive Elements

Although the Rileys are extremely naive, they begin to learn that the world around them isn’t as safe as they thought. They also realize that they don’t know their daughter quite as well as they had assumed. This allows them to become more protective and to think through their decisions and parental responsibilities. Both parents are also fiercely protective and loving, and that loyalty is demonstrated throughout the film.

John Belton, the private investigator working on the Riley’s behalf, labors tirelessly with his team to help rescue the vulnerable. Although he is continually insulted by the Rileys, he still offers to help them. It’s obvious that he feels a moral obligation to find Allison and to help everyone in similar circumstances that he can.

Spiritual Elements

Allison’s main captor, known to the women as “Daddy,” takes his grandmother to church and even attends with her. His grandmother wears cross earrings and believes her grandson to be a good man.

A few Christian songs play as part of the movie’s soundtrack, referencing forgiveness, brokenness, healing and restoration. Someone earnestly exclaims, “Oh God in heaven.” A pastor and his congregation pray for the Riley family and work to help capture Allison’s captor.

A pastor and his congregation work to help free victims of sex trafficking, A pastor tells a woman that the Lord wants us to help bring sex traffickers to justice. Mr. Riley is encouraged to pray for Allison’s safe return. A woman says that “arguin’ leads to cussin’ and cussin’ leads to blasphemy.”

Sexual Content

An undercover agent speaks with a few prostitutes who sport cleavage-baring tops. Allison, her sister and her friends wear crop tops. Two women are paid to wrestle one another in bras and underwear. Allison’s parents kiss. Allison and her friends comment on a picture of Allison’s secret online boyfriend, calling him a “hottie.”

Most of the sexual content in this film is directly related to sex trafficking, which I’ll talk more about in the section below.

Violent Content

Allison is lured into a car by a “boyfriend” she’s only spoken to online. The guy takes her to a random spot and gets paid to transfer her to a pimp. Once she’s captured, she’s taken to a place called, “Daddy’s house,” where a pimp forces the women and girls to call him “Daddy” and “breaks them in” by raping each of them. Although we don’t see him sexually assault anyone, it’s insinuated when he walks over to Allison and unbuttons his pants. Other men talk about having sex with Allison.

Daddy tells the women that he owns them, makes the bruised women sleep in dog cages and allows them to come out only for sex. Each of the women are transported to a hotel where we see tons of men enter into their rooms one by one. The women are also told to go “entertain” a group of men at a bachelor party.

A wealthy man pays to have Allison come to his home for three hours and pretend like she’s his girlfriend. He offers her alcohol and asks her to take her clothes off. We then see the two go upstairs to his bedroom.

The women and girls forced into trafficking are often threatened with violence.

Mr. Riley carries a gun on his hip, offending both his wife and mother-in-law. He assures them that it’s safe and talks about his second amendment rights, but both women are terrified, saying “we’re not gun people.” Later, Mr. Riley points the gun at his own head, contemplating suicide.

[Spoiler Warning] Mr. Riley is shot and shoots and kills a man. Other men are shot and killed. Mr. Riley jokingly says that when he meets Allison’s new boyfriend he will “kill him.” A few men get into fist fights. John Belton tries to rescue a young boy but is too late as his team finds the boy’s deceased body. 

Crude or Profane Language

Vulgarities such as “a–,” “b–ch,” “hoe,” “h—” and “d–n” are used a few times each.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Allison’s captors offer her and other women “candy,” an unlabeled drug, to calm them down before they’re forced to have sex with countless men. Men consume hard liquor and other alcoholic beverages. Allison’s father becomes intoxicated after drinking an entire bottle of hard liquor. A few people have a glass of wine, including a teenager. A woman bets her friend a martini.

Allison’s father seeks help from a friend who, apparently, is a “professional poker player who smokes weed.” A trafficking victim suffers withdrawal at a hospital after being “hooked on Oxycontin.” A private investigator frames an illegal dog fighter by putting bags of cocaine in his home. We hear that John Belton was sent to rehabilitation for alcoholism multiple times after returning from war.

Other Negative Elements

Although John Belton’s past isn’t fully explained in the film, it’s clear that he was dishonorably discharged from the Marines because of something that something happened to him, forcing him to separate from his wife and family.

Illegal dog fighters hold dogs in their basement; one of the dogs is caged and bloodied.

It’s insinuated in this film that the police are incapable of doing their job well. A few private investigators harshly make fun of one another.

Allison ignores her mother but acknowledges her father saying, “he’s the man.” Her mother tells her that they live in a progressive household and that she doesn’t like being ignored. In a moment of frustration, Mr. Riley yells at his youngest daughter.

Allison is lured out of her house by a notorious catfisher. Later, the Rileys argue about how much it will cost to rescue Allison, instead of immediately offering to cover the cost to rescue their daughter.

Conclusion

At the end of this film, statistics tell viewers that between 700,000 and 900,000 women and girls are being trafficked throughout the United States, illicitly generating more $30 billion annually.

Sex trafficking isn’t a new topic, but it remains a horrific, shocking one. And even though Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare includes some plot holes—as well as language, violence, and, obviously, suggestive and violent sexual situations—it still paints a realistic picture of this sordid “business” and the terrible toll on the girls and families unlucky enough to get caught up in it.   

Trafficked depicts an admittedly “mild” version of the horrors of sex-trafficking, taming this important story to PG-13 levels to make its warning more accessible to parents and older teens. The movie tugs dramatically on our heart strings, while simultaneously urging parents to pay attention to their children’s social media habits.

In the end, this film says, knowing what your child is doing online—and keeping those lines of communication open—could spell the difference between a normal childhood and one in which they’re plunged into an underworld filled with evil.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).