Kidnappings are used frequently in cinema because they create a unique type of atmosphere. It immediately builds tension and stimulates empathy from the viewers, sometimes before you even know who the characters are. In our selection of the best kidnapping movies on Netflix, you will find a diverse group of films that includes a documentary, sci-fi, and very interesting thrillers. In this list, we are also going to take a look at the movies which have a slightly broader spectrum than the mere word – kidnapping.
As far as Netflix is concerned, there aren’t many kidnapping movies that are available as of today, given it is a very scoped subject, yet we were able to sort the best ones out for you to enjoy. Kidnapping movies often contain the best of the action, grit, and sometimes spellbinding CGI, along with performances that are key to such films. Having that said, here is the list of some really good kidnapping movies on Netflix – movies that will make you witness the nail-biting action and sometimes romance or comedy for a change, and experience thrill in its raw form. You can also find several of these kidnapping movies on Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
15. Everybody Knows (2018)
This Spanish film is directed and written by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi and stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem as the lead actors. The fact that this thriller doesn’t feel like a thriller takes the viewers by surprise. Penelope Cruz (as Laura) and Javier Bardem (as Paco), have cleverly been cast as former lovers, evident by their chemistry, and also make an important point to note in the film.
Laura comes back to her hometown with her children to attend her younger sister’s wedding. On the night of the wedding, Laura’s daughter Irene (Carla Campra) is nowhere to be found. As a series of revelations get triggered, suspicions fly about and no one can be trusted.
14.Alpha Dog (2006)
The American crime drama film is based on the true story of the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz. The cast of the film includes big names such as Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Willis, and Sharon Stone.
‘Alpha Dog’ is about Zack Mizursky (Anton Yelchin), who is kidnapped as his half-brother Jake (Ben Foster) is unable to pay off his debt to Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) or the “alpha dog.” This was difficult for the Markowitz family to see- a film showing the details of their son’s murder and sharing their personal grief with the world. However, they did end up attending the premiere of the film and were touched by Yelchin’s portrayal of their son Nicholas (named Zach Muzursky in the film).
13. Kidnapping Stella (2019)
‘Kidnapping Stella’, a German thriller by Thomas Sieben, is a remake of the 2009 film, ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’. If you want to check out what a minimalistic movie is, you can have a look at ‘Kidnapping Stella’ to get an idea. The film centers around three characters – two criminals called Tom and Vic, and the girl they end up kidnapping, Stella. It depicts how Stella uses her limited strength to free herself while being bound and gagged by her captors. With limited locations and only three actors, Sieben tries to weave a thrilling tale, but the problems arise when he sticks too close to the original source material. The film is one that works on the twists and turns present in the narrative, and so if you cannot come up with anything new while making a remake, then it won’t seem interesting.
12. Abducted in Plain Sight (2018)
Directed by Skye Borgman, the true-crime documentary film is also known as Forever B. The disturbing story is shared by the different people involved in the actual incident, the bizarre abduction and rape of the 12-year-old, Jan Broberg by their neighbor Robert Berchtold. The story makes us feel helpless and frustrated because of how close and deeply intertwined the perpetrator was to Jan’s family. The appearance of Jan Broberg herself in the documentary is a great pull for the viewers. All of this had happened before the age of the internet, social media, and lightning-fast communication and availability of information, which justifies how a young girl and her family could have been brainwashed into normalizing and believing something so disturbing.
11. The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)
One of the best Netflix original films of 2018, ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ tells the story of Lisa Spinelli, a teacher who gets obsessed with one of her young students after he shows a prodigious talent for writing poetry. Lisa herself is a married woman but does not share a warm relationship either with her husband or with her children. The only respite from her normal existence is the poetry class that she attends. Though she tries to write something unique, most of her work is labeled as ‘derivative’ by the teacher. This is when Lisa discovers the poetic talent of this little child called Jimmy and even tells his father about his immense potential.
However, Jimmy’s father is not that interested in his son’s poetic talents and does not show any interest to nurture the same. Lisa decides that something should be done and so she ends up kidnapping Jimmy. ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ is a remake of an Israeli film, and though the director Sara Colangelo does capture the spirit of the original work, the movie still has a distinct tone. Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s stunning performance as the leading character is definitely the highlight of the film.
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10. The Frozen Ground (2013)
Robert Hansen (John Cusack) is a serial killer who abducts, tortures, and sexually assaults women before killing them. Alaskan Trooper, Sgt. Jack Holcombe (Nicolas Cage) suspects Hansen but has no evidence to prove him guilty. One of the survivors, Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens), who is a teenage prostitute, is now faced with the ordeal of testifying.
‘The Frozen Ground’ is based on a true story of an Alaskan serial killer who was responsible for the rape and murder of many women; numbers are unknown and will remain so as many of their bodies were not found. His cover persona was of a married man with kids, a quiet baker who mostly kept to himself; people liked him. He managed to stay undetected for years while he flew the abducted women on a private plane to inaccessible pockets of wilderness where he hunted them like a game. He was ultimately sentenced to 461 years in prison without parole.
9. Apostle (2018)
One of the finest horror films of 2018, ‘Apostle’, set in the early twentieth century, is the story of a man called Thomas Richardson who comes to know that his sister has been kidnapped by a religious cult and is being held on a heavily guarded island. Eager to free his sister from the clutches of this murderous organization, Thomas decides to infiltrate the island pretending to be a member of the cult. Once he reaches the island, Thomas is shocked by the atrocities carried out by the figureheads of the cult and how brutally they treat their prisoners. This island was set up as a safe haven away from the corruption of the mainland, but it turns out to be even more sinister and unforgiving.
The production value of this film is what sets it apart from most other horror films. Writer-director Gareth Evans brilliantly conjures up this sinister piece of land where the cult operates and immerses us into the darkest realms of his imagination. If you are a horror film fan and have not checked out ‘Apostle’ yet, you are doing yourself a great disservice.
8. Fargo (1996)
Widely acclaimed thriller film premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival with Joel Coen winning the Best Director Award. The film has also received seven nominations at the Academy Award and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and BAFTA Award for Best Direction. The film shows a car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), who hires two thugs to kidnap his own wife as he is buried in debt. He hopes that the ransom his father-in-law will pay for his wife will take care of his troubles, but the plan goes awry when the thugs shoot a state trooper.
7. Forgotten (2017)
One of the most interesting films on this list, ‘Forgotten’ is the story of a young man, Jin-seok, who decides to find out the truth behind the abduction of his brother. Yoo-seok, his brother, was kidnapped for a period of 19 days and then suddenly released. However, the family never comes to know what actually happened to him in those days because Yoo-seok does not remember anything at all. Over a few days, Jin-seok starts having doubts about his brother and family, and it slowly dawns on him that they are not who they are pretending to be. Afraid that his life is in danger, Jin-seok goes to the police to tell them that he was being held captive by some strangers. The film then takes a turn towards something even more sinister and intriguing.
6. Tau (2018)
‘Tau’ is a science fiction thriller that highlights the interaction between a woman and artificial intelligence, called Tau (Gary Oldman). Julia (Maika Monroe) is abducted from her home and gains consciousness to find an implant in the back of her neck. In an attempt to escape, she destroys the cell she was held in and the adjacent lab. Her abductor, Alex (Ed Skrein), wants her alive as he faces a setback in his work with his lab having been destroyed. In her captivity, she develops a rapport with Tau, who gives her information about the house and Alex’s experiments in exchange for information about the outside world.
5. Hush (2016)
An invasion thriller at the outset, Maddie is deaf and mute and a stay-at-home writer who lives in a secluded place. As she has been deaf and mute for about half of her life now, she’s used to it. Her house is frequented by her friend Sarah, who occasionally comes to have a check on her. Sarah, as soon as she exits, on one fine day, comes back running at her door and even starts pounding on the door, but we see a nonchalant Maddie cook her food and do her chores, while Sarah gets slaughtered. When the killer knocks on the door and Maddie doesn’t respond, he becomes fascinated with her and steals her cellphone, takes pictures of her, and sends her back. In a strange turn of events, as was expected, she overpowers him and kills the killer in the end. ‘Hush’ has the gentle scares which otherwise would look normal in any other movie but gets your heart-pounding, given the film’s excellent sound design.
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4. The Most Hated Woman in America (2017)
This true story is based on the final days of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was a talk show regular and pushed for religious freedom. After having two children out of wedlock, her devout Christian parents were outraged. The trigger for her movement was when her son was forced to recite the Lord’s prayer in school, after which she started a campaign to ban prayer in school. This resulted in the Supreme Court making mandatory prayer in school illegal. The controversial lady earned the name of “The Most Hated Woman in America” when she started minting money as an Anti-religious leader and founded the American Atheists. Having pulled publicity stunts before, no one took it seriously when Madalyn (Melissa Leo) was kidnapped along with her son and granddaughter, for a ransom of one million dollars by her disgruntled employee David Waters (Josh Lucas).
3. Tallulah (2016)
Ellen (Elliot) Page appears in a leading role in this movie, which circles around Tallulah, a young homeless girl who lives with her boyfriend Nico, practically on the road. Notwithstanding each other’s ways, they both separate and Lu (Tallulah) heads to NYC to look for food and shelter. She’d often steal the leftovers outside hotel rooms to survive. During one of her such stealing acts, she’s encountered by a woman named Carolyn, who asks Lu to watch over her baby. As police surround the hotel premise and Carolyn is nowhere to be seen, Lu takes the baby to Margo, Nico’s mother, and proclaims that the baby is theirs. Margo then reluctantly accepts both of them into her house. Although technically a kidnapping movie, the lighter subject, and the dark humor make it up for a delightful watch.
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2. Secuestro (2016) [Also released as ‘Boy Missing’]
“Secuestro” (or “Boy Missing”) is a Spanish thriller that follows a mother trying to save her kidnapped son. The story is not innovative at all but the execution is what separates this Spanish film from the rest in this genre. Oriol Paulo managed to create a very atmospheric film with some curious twists that will keep you interested. It is an absorbing, twisty, and intricate action thriller with good acting and interesting directing choices. Don’t be scared by the subtitles and give it a try.
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1. Lucid Dream (2017)
Dae-ho, a journalist, seeks to track down the whereabouts of his son who was kidnapped three years ago. The investigation has gone cold, but an experimental technique allows Dae-ho to relive the day his son was taken through lucid dreaming. “Lucid Dream” will keep you at the edge of your seat from the beginning till the end. The investigations taking place in the dreams and the real world intersect in interesting ways and the story has a lot of twists. It is a smart South Korean take on “Inception”.
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