Amanda Seyfried's saucer eyes work overtime to convey anxiety in… (Summit Entertainment )
The title of the somnolent new thriller "Gone" may be generic, but it packs plenty of information about the movie into its lone word.
Gone is the sister of the film's heroine, who up and vanishes 15 minutes into the movie. Gone is perhaps the heroine's sanity, since, absent any hard-and-fast evidence, she firmly believes that said sister was abducted by the same serial killer who may (or may not) have kidnapped her a year earlier.
Gone is also your hard-earned money if you buy a ticket to this slack piece of work, a movie that makes "Murder on the Orient Express" feel like"The Silence of the Lambs"by comparison.
Jill (Amanda Seyfried, her saucer eyes working overtime to convey anxiety) comes home from her graveyard waitressing shift to find her older sister (Emily Wickersham) missing. There is no reason to suspect foul play, but Jill immediately goes to the Portland, Ore., police, making wild claims involving duct tape, unmarked vans and human remains in remote areas.
We learn that Jill has been down this road before, maintaining that she herself was kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the woods. Police found no DNA evidence and put her in the psych ward under suicide watch. Could all this gruesomeness simply be in her mind? Or might one of the creepy-looking, unwashed men the movie parades before us (maybe the one described as having "rapey eyes"?) be the movie's answer to Buffalo Bill?
Hesitant though we may be to complain about a vigilante movie being too subtle, the fact is that "Gone" desperately needs to either ratchet up the suspense or simply be smarter about the cat-and-mouse game Jill plays with the police.
For a moment, it looks like Wes Bentley, playing a detective who likes his women "a little crazy," might provide the needed jolt of energy, but then he disappears to "bring soup to his mom."
"Gone" is a beat-the-clock movie in which director Heitor Dhalia forgot to set the alarm.