If you’re a parent, the idea of losing your children is without question your greatest fear. That’s what makes this fall’s Prisoners so effective. Even those without any offspring can feel sympathy for the Dovers and the Birches after their young daughters go missing on Thanksgiving. The overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and grief can drive even the friendliest family man insane.

Thoughts of lost girls is usually more than enough to amp up the tension in a drama, but Prisoners takes it one step further with the added element of torture. Not only is the film scary for Hugh Jackman’s Keller Dover, Paul Dano’s Alex Jones goes through his own terrifying ordeal as he is kidnapped and locked up in a house while Dover does unspeakable things to him.

A title with multiple meanings, Prisoners mines the depths of what it is to be both terrified and the terrorizer.

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