Oh, if only we could go back to the days when it looked like Mamma Mia! would be the worst movie Amanda Seyfried ever made. The actress who showed so much promise back as early as Mean Girls has been in a serious career skid for the last few years, and we can at least hope that Gone marks the nadir. A logic-free, utterly joyless thriller that substitutes a wild goose chase for an actual plot, Gone strands Seyfried in the thankless role as a maybe-crazy, maybe-correct woman hunting down the sister she believes is kidnapped, even while the cops and everyone else arounds her thinks she's nuts. Is Jill on to a killer nobody else believes in? Does she deserve to be locked up again? You'll wish you cared, or even that Gone cared enough to come up with a satisfying answer to any of those questions.
A year ago Seyfried's Jill was kidnapped from her home and thrown into the bottom of a pit in the woods, with a killer poised to strike before she managed to escape. She was found raving and filthy in the woods, but when the cops failed to find any evidence to corroborate her story, they marked her down as a nut and sent her off to an asylum. Now Jill lives with her college-aged sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) and waits tables, but also practices self-defense and essentially orchestrates her life around the theory that the kidnapper will return. When Molly disappears, Jill wastes no time in assuming the guy is back, and when the police aren't receptive to her story, she takes justice into her own hands.
Searching for your loved one on your own when the cops won't help is a reasonable thing to do-- at least, reasonable in movie thriller land, where the rules are a little different. What's not reasonable is most of the things Jill does from there on out, from pointing a gun at nearly everyone who asks her a question to following harebrained leads ("His nickname is Digger? My kidnapper dug a hole in the forest! Must be the same guy!") to eventually following the likely killer into a part of the woods so dense, even the ranger's station is abandoned.
The nicely photographed town of Portland, Oregon is littered with all kinds of red herrings, from Joel David Moore looking shifty to Molly's boyfriend (Sebastian Stan) looking like he has a motive to Wes Bentley, who plays the new guy on the police force who gets unnecessarily involved in Jill's case, to the point you think he might have a little too much invested. With director Heitor Dhalia throwing in tons of unnecessary close-ups, everybody starts seeming like a suspect until you realize the film doesn't have anything nearly so interesting up its sleeve, wrapping up in a way that's both predictable and baffling for how few twists it involves. Everything you've learned about mysteries from even cursory viewings of Law & Order is thoroughly ignored by Gone, which bounces around inside all of Jill's crazed theories until settling on the dullest possible conclusion.
Gone wasn't screened for critics, which means I had to pay good money to see it, though since it was before noon the ticket cost only $6. Renting Gone for that price doesn't seem like such a bad idea, especially in the company of some friends who might delight in pointing out the plot holes and the weaker moments of Seyfried's crazy-eyes performance. I'm not really sure why Gone wasn't released directly to DVD to begin with, but that's the best future for this movie, sitting on the shelf right next to Taylor Lautner's Abduction as a star vehicle thriller so bad you barely believe it exists.