Privacy laws are a touchy issue in America, just not in Portland, Oregon. Amanda Seyfried’s slightly off-base Jill investigates a homegrown hardware store in the search for her missing sister. That’s where Gone has led audiences, and finally, after endless creepy run-ins, she’s found someone nice.
So nice in fact, the gentlemanly owner divulges names and addresses, all because Jill has a receipt. Never mind that you could find said slip of paper in the parking lot or that she delivers misinformation the owner calls her on. It’s more important that supposed customers can connect with one another. Call it social marketing, Portland style.
For as ludicrous and as expository as that chat is, it’s one of the few in the film that feels innocent. Jill’s attempted breakdown of a locksmith takes place in one of those movie businesses where they failed to pay the electric bill. All of the light comes from a dirty, unsightly window on the far wall of the shot. The owners even speak in weird, eerie mannerisms, seemingly paying employees under the table and hiring from a local prison.
Even the cops are unsteady, so sure in their disbelief they dismiss Jill’s claims that her sister was abducted. They have their reasons -Jill was a psych patient and remains on heavy medication- but a missing person call is a missing person call. Gone sets out to instill too much doubt on the audience, grating on the credibility and smashing the effectiveness of the solitary investigation. This is the type of film where the obvious twist ending would have been preferred, if only to explain why locksmiths are so inherently seedy.
The world of Gone is over eager too, throwing Jill out for the mental feeding frenzy, without taking the time to place a reason on her fragile mental status. It’s 23-minutes before anyone on screen gives the issue the time of day, doing little for the establishment of character. Even then Jill’s actions are ludicrously extreme, comically so, swerving between car lanes to chase down a truck on the slimmest of clues. Apparently, Google can sniff out vans and business by their local colors, impressive for any search engine.
Gone isn’t legitimate because it never takes the time to make itself so. If you weren’t rolling your eyes at the ludicrous local populace (which will damn tourism for decades if the film catches on), then the black cat cupboard jump scare is sure to initiate groans. The film lives in a land of frustrations, not tension, and for a mystery thriller, that will crush any spirit.
The AVC encode from Summit’s Blu-ray presentation is spectacularly film-like… which is great, because it was captured digitally. This is -arguably of course- the most filmic digital source to date. The elements of film, sans grain structure, are there. The flubs of digital, the traditional ones at least, are not. Even during the dim finale in a darkened forest, Gone doesn’t see any reason to swarm the screen with noise. It’s an impressive feat.
A reliance on a boring, chilled palette tends to deliver the oranges and somewhat-but-not-quite-teal on a devastatingly regular basis. That’s going to sap a lot of the visual energy from this one before it has the chance to work its voodoo digital magic. Flesh tones are plain and backdrops crimped of their zest, which is a shame given all of the forestry on display. Greens are swept under the blues. Gone is color timed much like a traditional movie psych ward, just in the realm of the outdoors.
What works here though is texture… so much texture. Close-ups are brilliant in their definition with striking, resolved facial detail. Forested areas deliver the necessary resolution to capture the infinite leaves and debris. City exteriors of buildings are dazzling in delivering the finest of identifiable materials. Bricks are evident on an individual level. Even better, medium shots are equally as intricate. The world feels sharp and alive.
Even black levels come to play, delivering the dimensionality needed to spruce up images meant to be overbearing. It makes up for the oft dim contrast, whites captured by a blueish hue that doesn’t allow them to reach their full potential on most occasions. Portland is portrayed as constantly stuck in overcast, putting more pressure on the blacks to give up the depth. It works.
Gone doesn’t have to do much sonically, although it does place Jill in her environment. Street ambiance has a droning quality that is certainly an element of city life. When the score isn’t taking over, there are dogs making themselves known or passing cars to liven the soundfield. There are few moments where it doesn’t force acknowledgment.
That score will dive deep into the LFE too, bringing out feelings of dread as it pushes on under the action. The feeling of it being unsettled and heavy always indicates basic fear. The entire mix is in balance without any gimmicks. Dialogue is situated in the center without any travel.
Summit doesn’t including anything beyond trailers and generic BD-Live access.