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If a horror film is defined as a film that presents audiences with events or images of a horrifying nature, I'm fairly sure that Denis Villeneuve's new film Prisoners qualifies. Watching the brand new trailer, which comes to us via Apple, you get the feeling that screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski dipped into the worst nightmare of a parent and Villeneuve brought it to life...with an all-star cast.
Set in Pennsylvania, the plot begins when two young girls are kidnapped. While the police have one of their best detectives on the case, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), their efforts aren't enough for one of the girl's father, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman). The only evidence Loki has to go on is that an RV was parked near where the girls were last seen - but its driver (Paul Dano) is ruled to be too incompetent to pull off a kidnapping. Dissatisfied with the detective's conclusions and desperate to get his daughter back as the days pass by, Keller makes a bold move and kidnaps the RV driver, planning to torture him for the information he needs - much to the horror of the other kidnapped girl's parents (Terence Howard, Viola Davis). The impressive cast also includes Maria Bello as Grace Dover, Keller's wife and mother of one of the lost girls, and Melissa Leo.
I'm not even a parent and this movie looks like it will completely terrify me. The trailer that was released at the end of last month was a true gut punch, but somehow this new preview is even more affecting. Both Jackman and Gyllenhaal have been in Oscar conversations before, with Les Miserables and Brokeback Mountain respectively, and this could very well be their year to stir the pot once again (it's also worth mentioning that Villeneuve was previously nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 for his movie Incendies). Jackman in particular looks like he is in full power mode, and I can't wait to see the result. It's so scary part of me wonders if Paul Dano was safe the entire time he was on set.
The movie will be coming out right at the start of the fall, and given its prestige appearance I would be surprised if it made its premiere at either the Toronto or Venice International Film Festivals. It's set to be released by Warner Bros. on September 20th, which will actually put it head-to-head with another potential Academy Awards contentder in Ron Howard's Rush. Given that both films will probably be targeting the same audience, don't be too surprised if one of the titles swerves at the last minutes and picks a new weekend in the fall.