Jill Conway (Seyfried) is a young woman living in Portland with her sister Molly. A year ago Jill was apparently abducted by an unidentified man who kept her in a hole in the woods. Due to her history of mental problems and total absence of evidence for her abductor the police suspect she may have fantasized the whole thing. When Jill comes home one morning to find her sister unaccountably missing she immediately assumes her abductor has struck again and kidnapped her sister... but the police and her friends question her judgement.
No relation to the book series of the same name.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Jill has trained in martial arts and using a gun since her abduction. Her skills stand up well as she goes on a quest to find her sister.
- Actor Allusion: Sgt. Powers (played by Franco) tells Detective Bentley to become a firefighter if he wants to chase tail.
- Asshole Victim: The abductor, who would have murdered (and likely raped) Jill (while he's also had many more victims, gets painfully killed by her.
- Broken Bird: Jill is quite damaged as a result of first losing her parents, then being abducted, help captive, escaping and getting disbelieved due to her mental issues plus a lack of evidence to support her claims. She copes by learning fighting skills and keeping a stoic facade much of the time.
- Cat Scare: In the apartment Jill has broken into, Jill opens a closet and a cat jumps out while yowling.
- Chekhov's Gun: Kerosene. Digger brought kerosene from a hardware store, which bites him on the ass since Jill uses the kerosene in burning him alive.
- Damsel out of Distress: Jill managed to escape her abductor the first time. When she's lured back into his clutches, she does it again (this time she brings a gun, making doing so easier).
- Driven to Suicide: Jill attempted suicide or at least was viewed as a risk for it in the past due to depression after both her parents died, causing her temporary committal to a mental institution.
- Exact Words: Jill promised her abductor that she won't shoot him if he tells her where her sister is. She didn't actually say anything about burning him alive...
- Flashback Echo: Seeing a familiar object, Jill begins to remember about her own abduction a year prior.
- Hero Insurance: Jill isn't arrested for illegal possession of a gun or menacing on coming back, though the police had been looking for her because she'd done these over the entire day. Possibly justified as she'd shown they were wrong to disbelieve her, and charging her would make them look bad when this came out.
- I Lied: Jill says this after she starts pouring gasoline onto her abductor, who screams that she said she'd let him go if he'd told her what he's done with her sister.
- In the Hood: Jill wears a hoodie in order to evade police.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Once she's overpowered him, Jill gets her abductor to fess up about what he did with her sister by shooting him non-lethally twice, then promising she won't any more if he tells her.
- Kill It with Fire: Jill kills her abductor this way, pouring kerosene onto him then setting it on fire.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Digger. This is what the abductor calls himself, and Jill correctly states this is a reference to the big hole in the ground that the Serial Killer used to dump the bodies of young women.
- Parental Abandonment: Jill and Molly's parents are both dead. The trauma of their loss resulted in Jill having attempted or at least being viewed as a risk for suicide, which meant she spent a bit of time in a mental institution.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Jill's treatment of her abductor is brutal. Jill ultimately kills her former abductor by wounding him first, and then burning him alive.
- Police Are Useless: Zigzagged. The police mostly believe Jill is delusional due to her past mental issues and not finding any evidence for her claims of being abducted. However, Detective Hood believes her and does try to help. Jill doesn't trust him though due to her negative experiences with them, and goes off on her own.
- Plucky Girl: Jill might be short but she's not a girl to mess with. She gets a little carried away in her self-defense class and has to be pulled off her opponent after said opponent gave her a sly comment and moved a piece of her hair away from her face.
- Red Herring: A student who used to constantly hit on Molly turns out to be an Armoured Closet Gay.
- Revolvers Are for Amateurs: Jill owns a .38 special which she could not legally own as she had spent time in a psychiatric hospital a few years after her parents death.
- Teens Are Short: An in-universe plot point - like the actress playing her Jill is is in her twenties but being quite short she is able to pass herself off as a young teen at one point.
- Unreliable Narrator: From the audience perspective Jill undoubtedly believes that her sister has been abducted but it quickly emerges that she is withholding information from the police that might cause them to doubt her concerns (she conceals her sister's drinking problem), is an extremely talented liar and has been committed to an institution before for her mental issues. She turns out to be right about the abduction.
- You Have to Believe Me!: Downplayed: Jill acts more reasonably than most characters in this situation, trying to get the police involved in the beginning when her sister disappeared. As she's got no proof of a crime, plus she had already destroyed her credibility with them, they don't believe her. Then her (understandably) desperate, extreme means for searching herself mean they're soon on her tail (for making a witness tell her what he knows by threatening him with a gun, which she isn't allowed to have anyway).