The creepiest thriller I've seen since "Seven". What starts out as a case of two missing little girls has twists and turns galore and gets darker and darker as the film goes on. The story takes place in an unnamed Pennsylvania town right after Thanksgiving. It's either raining or snowing most of the time and the daylight fades to night pretty quickly which all feeds the atmosphere of this engrossing new drama.
The biggest surprise is Hugh Jackman as the father of one of the missing girls. I doubt Mr. Jackman has ever played a role like this and he is terrific as a man pushed to the limits, doing whatever necessary to find his daughter. Matching him in intensity is Jake Gyllenhaal playing the detective in charge of the case. Mr. Gyllenhaal shows a new level of maturity and grittiness, much of the time with just a facial expression, exposing his anger and determination to close the case.
Terrence Howard and Viola Davis play the parents of the other missing girl and they get their share of emotional scenes as well as Maria Bello as Mr. Jackman's wife. While these characters have their moments, they fade into the background for much of the film as it focuses on it's leads and the prime suspect, played by Paul Dano. Also co-starring is the ever reliable Melissa Leo, almost unrecognizable in a small but important role.
The film has it's faults. Plot points may seem too convenient or straining credibility but credit the direction, photography and the score (and of course the acting) to keep you engrossed in a story that runs about 30 minutes too long. Yes, the running time is two hours and thirty minutes and the audience may feel like prisoners too by the time it's over but it's powerful and will leave an impression after it ends.