Amanda Seyfried isn’t one for shying away from portraying a semi-psychotic (see: Jennifer’s Body), which is why her latest role as Jill Conway, a victim of abduction, is rather ideal for honing the actress’ skill. After escaping an unidentified man who kept her captive in a hole in the recesses of Forest Park (and yes, I realize how sexual that sounds), Jill begs the police to find him before any other women are subjected to his insanity. Insisting that there were already victims of his crime because she saw human remains buried next to her while she was trapped, the police search the park for a week before assuming the man was a figment of Jill’s imagination (she has a history of mental illness, like so many people living in Portland).
Now that Jill lives with her sister, Molly (Emily Wickersham), she feels slightly less afraid/paranoid, but still makes it a point to go to Forest Park on a frequent basis so that she can figure out where her abductor took her. Molly chastises her for being so obsessed and uses the analogy that if Molly started drinking again Jill would “lose her shit.” The closeness between Jill and Molly is exhibited in the dialogue created by Allison Burnett (also responsible for the Diane Lane psychological drama Untraceable), who displays a natural talent for the thriller genre.
When Molly tells Jill to wake her up early so that she can study before her final, Jill promises to be back home at 6:30 after her graveyard shift at The Lucky Star Diner. When she mentions to one of her co-workers, Sharon (Jennifer Carpenter, who has very little range beyond Dexter), that a customer that usually sits in a different section left her an insulting tip, Sharon insists that he’s usually more generous. Suspicion begins to arise within Jill as she heads back home to find Molly missing. Frantic, she immediately goes to report it to Lieutenant Powers (Daniel Sunjata), who takes it in stride, considering that Jill often comes to the police station to tell them that her abductor has returned.
With no one on her side except a creepy new edition to the unit named Peter Hood (Wes Bentley), Jill takes matters into her own hands by pounding the pavement with her gun in tow. Being that someone involuntarily committed to a mental institution isn’t allowed to carry a gun, the Portland Police begin an extensive manhunt for Jill as she tries to clandestinely question anyone who might be able to lead her to her sister’s captor. Because she tells a different scenario to everyone she meets (to a hardware store clerk it’s that her grandfather has gone missing, to a skateboarding slacker it’s that she’s looking for the man who dinged the side of her car), it’s difficult to gauge if maybe Jill is a little bit off the rails.
How it all plays out in the end is nearly perfect, as Jill is finally able to throw the police’s adamancy about her mental instability back in their face by telling them, “It was all in my head.” Had this been the final scene of the movie, it might have been one of the best female vengeance stories of the year. Unfortunately, the cap to close out the film is more of a cautionary tale about how one can never get away with anything.