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 clear emotional instability 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:
- Actor Allusion: Sgt. Powers (played by Franco) tells Detective Bentley to become a firefighter if he wants to chase tail.
- Broken Bird: Jill is very, very damaged.
- 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.
- Flashback Echo: Seeing a familiar object, Jill begins to remember about her own abduction a year prior.
- In the Hood: Jill wears a hoodie in order to evade police.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Digger. This is what the abductor calls himself, and Jill correctly states this is reference to the big hole in the ground that the Serial Killer used to dump the bodies of young women.
- 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.
- 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 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 should 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 may even be mentally unbalanced. She turns out to be right about the abduction.