by Glenn Lovell
As Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman so memorably noted, “Endings are a bitch.” That adage leapt to mind during the closing moments of “Gone,” starring Amanda Seyfried. Granted, this mystery-thriller was no great shakes to begin with, but as Seyfried reunites with the serial killer, what began as a routine TV crime segment turns unbelievably idiotic, as in “Whoa, I waited 90 minutes for this!”
“Gone” is a minor entry in the “Kiss the Girls”/“Along Came a Spider” line in which the victim slyly turns the tables on the killer. Seyfried plays Jill Conway, who says she was abducted a year ago and dumped, deep in a wooded park, into a pit containing human remains. Only no one believed her because she couldn’t ID her captor or lead authorities to the spot in the 5,000-acre park. Not only that, but when she persisted, they pegged her for a nutter and consigned her to a state mental hospital.
Released into the custody of her younger sister (Emily Wickersham), Jill finds history repeating itself as now said sister goes missing and the cops again gloat, “Look who’s back ‒ the girl who cried wolf!” Dumping her meds and grabbing a .45, Jill decides to go it alone.
Directed by Brazil’s Heitor Dhalia from a script by Allison Burnett, “Gone” was shot on location in Portland and environs. It looks slick enough, but it never gets out of second gear. The endless string of chases, which are supposed to remind you of Hitchcock’s wrong-man suspensers, couldn’t be more lethargic or mechanically orchestrated. As for the cops led by Michael Paré’s precinct captain and Daniel Sunjata’s lead detective, they glory in their cluelessness. Paré’s response to Jill’s cries for help, “Miss Conway, adults have the right to disappear.”
But we shouldn’t hold the cops’ inaction against them. Seyfried isn’t the least bit convincing as a woman who’s supposed to be desperate to find her sister. “He’s back ‒ he took my sister because I wasn’t there,” she explains in a tone so matter-of-fact she could be ordering Chinese takeout. The role called for hysteria cut with outrage. All Seyfried manages is little-girl peevishness.
Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”) ducks in and out as Jill’s waitress friend. She would have been better in the lead. Blaine Palmer and Danny Belrose appear as a creepy neighbor and a beady-eyed flophouse janitor. They’re meant as red herrings, to raise eyebrows and throw us off the trail. If only there was something to hide. The killer, when he turns up for the park reunion, proves as boring as he is witless.
GONE ✮1/2 With Amanda Seyfried, Emily Wickersham, Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter. Directed by Heitor Dhalia; scripted by Allison Burnett. 94 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for profanity, mild violence)