Most horrifying movies about kidnapped/murdered/exploited/abused children

by PeachHamBeach | created - 14 Jul 2015 | updated - 06 Jul 2016 | Public
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1. Adam (1983 TV Movie)

100 min | Drama

After their child is abducted, John and Reve Walsh are trying to find him. But, shortly after that, Adam is found dead.

Director: Michael Tuchner | Stars: Daniel J. Travanti, JoBeth Williams, Martha Scott, Richard Masur

Votes: 507

Travanti and Williams give such powerful performances of horrified parents that it was their viewpoint alone that kept me in tears. For nearly 3 decades this case went sadly unsolved due to police ineptitude. Toole's photos give me the impression that he was inbred. No matter what kind of childhood he suffered, he made the choice, and we must live with our choices.

2. Without a Trace (1983)

PG | 120 min | Drama, Mystery

This film, centering on a child's abduction, casts Kate Nelligan as the distraught mother who lashes out at the police (in the person of a relentless detective played by Judd Hirsch), who ... See full summary »

Director: Stanley R. Jaffe | Stars: Kate Nelligan, Judd Hirsch, David Dukes, Stockard Channing

Votes: 1,709

Nelligan and Hirsch are awesome in this inspired but not fact based story about a youngster who vanishes on his way to school. Alex Selky and his single mom live in Brooklyn, and suddenly Alex is gone. Nelligan's performance is almost robotically dignified, but never nonemotional. This story is rumoured to be loosely based on the Etan Patz case, but sadly, that case has never been resolved either.

3. Amber's Story (2006 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 88 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

Story about Amber Hagerman who was 9 years old when she was abducted while riding her bicycle, prompting her mother to seek out a system that alerts the nation of abducted children, we know that to be called an Amber Alert today.

Director: Keoni Waxman | Stars: Elisabeth Röhm, Teryl Rothery, Myron Natwick, Sophie Hough

Votes: 439

People have ragged on Rohm since L&O and I think it's ridiculous. She's no Streep, but she does a wonderful job as an anguished single mom whose 9 year old daughter is ripped off her bicycle and thrown into a dirty black pickup. There is only one elderly eyewitness, but he did all that he could. The second half has a separate story about the abduction of 10 yr old Nicole Timmons by Glen Park, a man who has a creepy obsession with Nicole. Nicole's story ends much more happily than Amber's, but as her Mom always says when someone is saved, "We did it again, baby girl."

4. The Lovely Bones (2009)

PG-13 | 135 min | Drama, Fantasy, Thriller

42 Metascore

Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon

Votes: 147,173 | Gross: $43.82M

It takes a hell of an actor to make you despise and abhor him. Tucci is one of my favorites. I was so creeped out and enraged at him that I had to watch Julie & Julia just to calm my nerves. Suzie Salmon (Ronan) is a beautiful, intelligent, gifted and loving 14 year old who does not know she is being watched by an evil force so empty that only killing satisfies it. Once she was lured down into that creepy "playhouse", she was doomed. Arguably uplifting and depressing simultaneously.

5. Adam: His Song Continues (1986 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 100 min | Drama

Follows the true story of John and Reve Walsh who, after their child was murdered, fought to raise national awareness of the problem of missing children.

Director: Robert Markowitz | Stars: Daniel J. Travanti, JoBeth Williams, Richard Masur, Martha Scott

Votes: 147

A sequel that I didn't bother watching until recent years because I thought that the story had been told adequately and that I'd shed enough tears already, but just this past few months, I've rewatched this dynamic continuation of John, Reve, Adam and Meghan's story, and realised that the story was far from over. Again, I was moved to tears by the performance of Travanti and Williams as the courageous parents, who must continue the fight for America's missing children. The part where their second son, Callahan is born but quickly suffers from complications was very frightening, but uplifting because of John's prayer/talk with Adam. "Please help your little brother." Later in the film, a Florida girl, Staci Jazvac goes missing, and the film becomes as terrifying as the first film was. Finally the meaning of, "If his song is to continue, we must do the singing" is clear. The song is loud and sometimes rude, but people who care do what it takes to make sure the song is heard, because the voiceless are the ones being sung for.

6. Gardens of the Night (2008)

R | 110 min | Drama

43 Metascore

After being abducted as children, and suffering years of abuse, a teenage boy and girl find themselves living on the street.

Director: Damian Harris | Stars: Gillian Jacobs, John Malkovich, Ryan Simpkins, Tom Arnold

Votes: 4,062

7. I Know My First Name Is Steven (1989)

180 min | Crime, Drama

The harrowing true account of Steven Stayner, who was kidnapped by a perverted pseudo-priest and his lackey during the 1970s. As he gets older, he realizes that he needs to try to make an escape and get back home.

Stars: Cindy Pickett, John Ashton, Corin Nemec, Luke Edwards

Votes: 2,204

8. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

72 Metascore

Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan

Votes: 236,621 | Gross: $20.30M

9. The Elizabeth Smart Story (2003 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 89 min | Crime, Drama

Based on the true story of the June 2002 kidnapping of teenager Elizabeth Smart by two people in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Director: Bobby Roth | Stars: Dylan Baker, Lindsay Frost, Amber Marshall, Tom Everett

Votes: 695

10. Taken in Broad Daylight (2009 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 89 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

The true and inspiring survival story of kidnapped teen, Anne Sluti, and how she manages to stay alive by manipulating her captor, engineering her own rescue and negotiating her safe release after 6 days of hell.

Director: Gary Yates | Stars: Sara Canning, James Van Der Beek, LeVar Burton, Diana Reis

Votes: 1,306

11. Eden (I) (2012)

R | 98 min | Crime, Drama

63 Metascore

A young Korean-American girl, abducted and forced into prostitution by domestic human traffickers, cooperates with her captors in a desperate ploy to survive.

Director: Megan Griffiths | Stars: Jamie Chung, Beau Bridges, Matt O'Leary, Eddie Martinez

Votes: 7,813

12. Trade (I) (2007)

R | 120 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

42 Metascore

Adriana is a 13-year-old girl from Mexico City whose kidnapping by sex traffickers sets in motion a desperate mission by her 17-year-old brother, Jorge, to save her. Trapped and terrified ... See full summary »

Director: Marco Kreuzpaintner | Stars: Kevin Kline, Kathleen Gati, Paulina Gaitan, Cesar Ramos

Votes: 16,198 | Gross: $0.21M

13. The Nickel Children (2005)

95 min | Drama

Nickel Children is a narrative drama that takes the perspective of two runaways, Cat (Tamara Hope - Shall We Dance, The Deep End) and Nolan (Reiley McClendon - Pearl Harbor, The Kid) and ... See full summary »

Director: Glenn Klinker | Stars: Tamara Hope, Reiley McClendon, Jeremy Sisto, Tom Sizemore

Votes: 115

14. Mysterious Skin (2004)

Unrated | 105 min | Drama

73 Metascore

A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.

Director: Gregg Araki | Stars: Brady Corbet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elisabeth Shue, Chase Ellison

Votes: 63,198 | Gross: $0.70M

15. The Dead Girl (2006)

R | 85 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

65 Metascore

The clues to a young woman's death come together as the lives of seemingly unrelated people begin to intersect.

Director: Karen Moncrieff | Stars: Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy, Marcia Gay Harden, Piper Laurie

Votes: 13,945 | Gross: $0.02M

16. An American Crime (2007)

R | 98 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

Director: Tommy O'Haver | Stars: Ellen Page, Hayley McFarland, Nick Searcy, Romy Rosemont

Votes: 30,302

17. Alpha Dog (2006)

R | 122 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

53 Metascore

Johnny and a couple pals kidnap Jake's 15-year-old brother, Zach, then assigns his buddy Frankie to be Zach's minder. They develop a brotherly friendship. Zach parties with his captors as things begin to spin out of control.

Director: Nick Cassavetes | Stars: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Willis

Votes: 95,761 | Gross: $15.23M

18. Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)

R | 98 min | Drama

75 Metascore

A mother and daughter find their lives adversely affected when a new man enters the picture. Will their family ever be what they expect?

Director: Anjelica Huston | Stars: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ron Eldard, Glenne Headly, Lyle Lovett

Votes: 3,903

19. The Star Chamber (1983)

R | 109 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

60 Metascore

Disgusted with criminals escaping the judicial system via technicalities, an idealistic young judge investigates an alternative method for punishing the guilty.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, Sharon Gless

Votes: 5,914 | Gross: $5.56M

20. Megan Is Missing (2011)

Not Rated | 85 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

Two teenage girls encounter an Internet child predator.

Director: Michael Goi | Stars: Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Dean Waite, Jael Elizabeth Steinmeyer

Votes: 7,770

21. Taken in Broad Daylight (2009 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 89 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

The true and inspiring survival story of kidnapped teen, Anne Sluti, and how she manages to stay alive by manipulating her captor, engineering her own rescue and negotiating her safe release after 6 days of hell.

Director: Gary Yates | Stars: Sara Canning, James Van Der Beek, LeVar Burton, Diana Reis

Votes: 1,306

22. The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

PG-13 | 106 min | Drama

45 Metascore

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.

Director: Ulu Grosbard | Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Treat Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Jackson

Votes: 12,172 | Gross: $13.38M

23. Nightmare in Columbia County (1991 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 100 min | Drama

The recounting of a terrible crime that wracked a family and galvanized police in South Carolina in the 1980's.

Director: Roger Young | Stars: William Devane, Jeri Ryan, Michele Abrams, Nick Searcy

Votes: 237

24. Cleveland Abduction (2015 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 88 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

A single mother who becomes the first victim of kidnapper Ariel Castro finds herself trapped in his home for 11 years, where she eventually becomes a friend and sister to two other women who are taken captive by Castro.

Director: Alex Kalymnios | Stars: Taryn Manning, Raymond Cruz, Katie Sarife, Samantha Droke

Votes: 4,128

25. Cry in the Wild: The Taking of Peggy Ann (1991 TV Movie)

M | 90 min | Crime, Drama

Cry In The Wind is a true story of a young woman's abuction by a deranged loner that led to the largest manhunt in the history of Pennsylvania, USA. A mountain man kidnaps the 17 year old, ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Correll | Stars: David Morse, Megan Follows, Dion Anderson, Tom Atkins

Votes: 290

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