Spoiler warning: The following review contains spoilers for the documentary Abducted in Plain Sight. Once again this is a spoiler for a true story.
I don’t like most true crime documentaries. I never listen to the podcasts, don’t watch the documentaries, and don’t think I’ve seen a single episode of the myriad of television shows covering real crimes. That’s important to know when I say that when one of my best friends texted me that it was important I watched Abducted in Plain Sight, I didn’t want to. When I finally relented, mostly to get him to stop suggesting it, I realized he was right. This is an absolutely insane story. Absolutely. Insane.
There is nothing inherently wrong with people who enjoy crime documentaries. Perhaps it’s because I’m an attorney (was even a litigator for quite some time), but I don’t enjoy seeing criminal or legal aspects. At best the documentaries maybe provide a little light to a messed up system, and at worst the documentaries are perverse invasions into death and the pain of the friends and family of the deceased. What makes this documentary feel different is we see the subject of the documentary, a thirteen-year-old girl who was abducted, as an adult in the first two minutes of the film. None of the negative aspects I normally associate with these types of programs. It let me kick back and really take in the story.
Is there anything particularly clever about the structure of the documentary? No, not really. It has some reenactments, old home videos, and a lot of standard interview style footage of the girl, her family members, police involved on the case, and others. What makes the documentary so memorable is actually the story being told. In a surprising twist, the only person who comes out not looking like either an idiot or a monster is the victim. I texted my friend ten minutes in to watching to ask why everyone would say what they’re saying on camera. He told me to just wait. When I watched the movie with my girlfriend, she said about ten minutes in that no one should say what they’re saying on camera. I told her to just wait.
Whether or not you like true crime documentaries, I suggest watching Abducted in Plain Sight. I’m intentionally being sparse on details because I don’t want to give away any bit of the story. Anything I say will lessen the absurdity, and that’ll take away from what makes it work so well. Go watch it. Will I discuss this film with you once you watch it? Definitely. Will I watch another true crime documentary you suggest? Almost certainly not.