While Nate figures the alert is probably just a custody dispute and suggests they let the police handle the case, Sam insists on pursuing the Honda. When it stops at a gas station and they see the driver go inside, she manages to peek inside the car and sees a little girl asleep in the back seat, making her all the more determined to continue the pursuit. The longer they give chase, the closer they get to rescuing the child, but the closer they also get to incurring the wrath of the sadistic criminal holding her hostage.
The End Result
Still, the realism of the scenario hits home more than the typical found footage ghost or monster story, even though the logistics of having the protagonists so far away from the villain for the majority of the movie minimize any chance for scares. There's also an admirable Hitchcockian element that for stretches feels like Rear Window at 60 miles per hour. The acting, which is key for this type of film, is solid enough to maintain the naturalness, albeit the bickering, circular nature of the dialogue makes it all feel a bit too realistic at times. One glaring lack of realism, however, is the absence of police support -- an understandably necessary plot device that nonetheless feels false (at least, I hope it is) and adds (intentionally?) to the sense of helplessness viewers feel throughout the film.
Frustration may very well be the emotion first-time writer-director Kerry Bellessa wanted to instill, as it would certainly reflect the feelings of anyone whose loved one was kidnapped, but it doesn't make for a very entertaining experience -- especially when part of the frustration is the unfulfilled promise of the film. And at some point, you have to wonder if the whole thing feels a bit exploitive of the Amber Alert program.
- Acting: C+ (Solid, considering the characters are flat and their relationship not fleshed out.)
- Direction: C (Generates some tense moments, but they're too few and far between.)
- Script: D+ (An interesting concept goes underdeveloped.)
- Gore/Effects: C (None required in the plot.)
- Overall: C (A wonderfully conceived but frustratingly executed thriller.)
Amber Alert is directed by Kerry Bellessa and is rated R by the MPAA for some disturbing content and sexual references. Release date: November 2, 2012 (on demand October 1).