In a recent interview that Abyss playwright, Maria Milisavljevic, gave to the Hub she told us about one of the stories that influenced her to write the play:
“A girl my sister had gone to school with went missing a few years back. She simply disappeared on her way to the cinema. I remember the search for her well (…) In Abyss I tried to explore the day to day fears and hopes and grief the ones who loved her went through.”
It seems that people are often drawn to stories about missing persons. Maybe it is because they examine a situation that we find even more complex to deal with than death. In these stories the people that are left behind remain with the constant wonder if their loved one can still be found. As Moze Halperin wrote in his article: The 10 Best Films and TV Shows About Disappearance: “Ghosts, aliens and giant lizards be damned: the most frightening presence is the lack of a presence. A person’s shift from a physical being to mere idea is the most terrifying, and most intriguing, of horror stories.” We collected our top 21 movies that deal with this subject — Check out their trailers for your next movie night!
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind Directed by Steven Spielberg
After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.
2. The Imposter Directed by Bart Layton 2012
A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.
3. Picnic at Hanging Rock Directed by Peter Weir 1975
During a rural picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls’ school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind.
4. Winter’s Bone Directed by Debra Granik 2010
An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
Director: Chan-wook Park 2003
After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.
6. Red Riding: 1983 Directed by Anand Tucker 2009
Plagued by guilt, a corrupt police official attempts to solve the case of a missing schoolgirl after seeing connections between her disappearance and a rash of prior abductions.
7. Into the Wild Directed by Sean Penn 2007
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
8. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Directed by David Fincher
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.
9. Bad Day at Black Rock Directed by John Sturges 1955
A one handed stranger comes to a tiny town possessing a terrible past they want to keep secret, by violent means if necessary.
Directed by Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani 2009
Ajami is the religiously mixed community of Muslims and Christians in Tel Aviv. These are five stories about the everyday life in Ajami.
Directed by Lodge Kerrigan 2004
A man in his early 30s (Keane) struggles with the supposed loss of his daughter from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, while fighting serious battles with schizophrenia. We can never be sure if the loss is real or imaginary; or whether his overt interest in helping young girls is innocent and of a fatherly nature, or is of a darker, scarier motive.
12. Red Lights
Directed by Cédric Kahn 2004
Antoine and Helene drive to South France to return their kids from a holiday camp. The traffic is dense and the atmosphere growingly tense; he is an alcoholic and becomes increasingly drunk the more often they stop. After a fierce discussion they split and both have to face great danger during the night.
13. In the Valley of Elah Directed by Paul Haggis
A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.
Directed by Michael Tuchner 1983
After their child is abducted, John and Reve Walsh are trying to find him. But, shortly after that, Adam is found dead.
15. The Missing
Directed by Lee Kang-Sheng 2003
In 1885 New Mexico, a frontier medicine woman forms an uneasy alliance with her estranged father when her daughter is kidnapped by an Apache brujo.
16. Gone Girl
Directed by David Fincher 2014
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
17. Bunny Lake Is Missing Directed by Otto Preminger
A woman reports that her young daughter is missing, but there seems to be no evidence that she ever existed.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve 2013
When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?
19. The Deep End of the Ocean
The Deep End of The Ocean is a film about a family’s reaction when Ben, the youngest son is kidnapped and then found nine years later, living in the same town, where his family had just moved.
Directed by Clint Eastwood 2008
A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.
21. The Vanishing
Directed by George Sluizer 1988
Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are on vacation. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor.