Over the past few weeks, there has been a surge in reports of child abductions or kidnappings doing the rounds on social media. This has caused widespread panic but more so, an intriguing rise in the portrayal of abduction in entertainment.

Film, without any doubt, is one of the most important arts in present world. There’s long been a philosophical question of whether art is more likely to imitate life (mimesis) or life is more likely to imitate art (anti-mimesis). Film has the ability to replay our reality. We have an inborn urge to imitate, and it is our world that becomes the narrative in the world of entertainment.


While combing to find kidnapping movies on Netflix, one thing becomes clear. First, there are a ton of movies. It never dawned on me just how common a plot device kidnapping is. The idea of being taken or held against your will is about as simple and sturdy a dramatic conceit as you can find. It builds immediate tension and elicits sympathy from audiences, sometimes before you even know who the characters are. Lock your doors, make sure you have a weapon nearby, and settle in for these tales of the taken.

1) Lucid Dream

This wildly inventive kidnapping thriller is a South Korean film that follows a journalist, Dae-ho, working to find his son, who was kidnapped three years earlier. The investigation has gone cold, but an experimental technique allows Dae-ho to relive the day his son was taken through lucid dreaming. Schematically speaking, it will surely remind viewers of Inception. This genre is so steeped in doom and gloom that it’s a nice change of pace.

2) Boy Missing (Secuestro)

This Spanish thriller is about a mother doing whatever she can to save her kidnapped son. Pretty standard setup, but the execution is what separates Boy Missing from other films exploring the abduction motif. People usually throw around “formulaic” as a pejorative, but in this case, it’s meant as a positive, or at least a comforting descriptor.

3) TAU

The technology-gone-awry Netflix thriller TAU, accompanies the street-smart Julia (Maika Monroe), who ends up captive in the experiment of a demented (supposed) genius named Alex (Ed Skrein). Her frenemy, Tau, is an advanced A.I. developed by Alex, who protects the futuristic house with creepy drones. In TAU, the humans are inconsequential. It is the machine that receives deliverance - an unsettling final message that arrives via one last science fiction trope.

4) Room

Not The Room, just Room. Drop the “The” and trade Tommy Wiseau for the infinitely more charming Brie Larson. Room is based on the bestselling Emma Donoghue novel of the same name, and it’s about a woman who was kidnapped and has spent five years living in a room with her son. 

Human being lives in time - we are born, we grow up, die, that's why it's easy for us to describe our life and the life of others in categories of narration. Such stories also have their great advantage of creating the bond between those who are the story characters and those who listen, read or watch it. By telling stories we learn the world, we feel the bond with people before us, we communicate. We communicate our values, we confront them with other points of view. 

Film does all of that - and very well.