A wake-up call for back-packers and an unsettling precautionary tale of how trust can so often be misplaced, 'Gone' has many compulsive elements and yet manages to lose direction and steer off course towards its close.
British student Alex (Evans) arrives in Australia wide-eyed and eager to start his back-packing adventure. His girlfriend Sophie (Warner) has arrived ahead of him and Alex can't wait to get to where she is. So when handsome and friendly American stranger Taylor (Mechlowicz) offers to give him a lift, luck seems to be with him. But an indiscretion on Alex's part means that the helpful Taylor now has something on him, a secret that he claims he doesn't mind keeping. After all, we all have them. It just turns out that some have bigger secrets than others.
But when Taylor insists on meeting the pretty and carefree Sophie an eerie tension begins to rise. He seems like the perfect gentleman on the outside – quick to help and always calm – but a shadow seems to follow him and his motives seem questionable, to say the least.
The mood of the movie flips constantly as the three later set out on their cross-country road-trip. Alex is nervous of Taylor's knowledge, while Sophie is open and welcoming to their new friend. But it is when Alex's total paranoia kicks in that things start to move along at a more lively pace, aided by a brilliant and apt soundtrack.
Scott Mechlowicz plays the charming and manipulative Taylor well, his spooky calmness creating a totally unsettling vibe throughout the movie. Shaun Evans' mania as the guilty, paranoid Alex is also impressive – creating a sharp contrast to Amelia Warner's Sophie character, who is all things nice and slightly naïve when it comes to character judgement.
The plot isn't anything new or exciting. We can see where the story is going from about 10 minutes into the movie but we somehow still hope that getting there will be an enjoyable trip and for the most part it lives up to the expectation. This is very much a slow-burner in terms of plot development and while nothing major happens, the atmosphere keeps you drawn to the characters as you anticipate their fate. The conclusion, however, is all too predictable. There's not enough tension and the climax never quite reaches expectation, quenching the atmosphere that has been subtly built up until that point.
If you're the kind of person who liked 'Wolf Creek' or 'Hostel' but found them a little difficult to stomach then this is probably the movie for you. It's creepy yet not overly violent, suspenseful yet not quite edge-of-the-seat stuff. 'Gone' makes its point but it just forgets to hammer it home with the enthusiasm that you might expect from a film in this genre.
Anna Finnie writes:
'Gone' is a psychological thriller following Alex and Sophie (Shaun Evans, Amelia Warner), a young English couple who befriend an enigmatic American named Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz) and set out to explore Australia's harsh and desolate Outback in his car.
The young trio embark with high hopes but it soon becomes evident that Taylor's motive for imposing his friendship is much more sinister and suspicious when he begins to show more than a fleeting interest in Sophie.
Alex begins to think that travelling with Taylor was not such a good idea and tries to convince Sophie that they should travel alone. But Taylor is aware of a secret that Alex must keep from Sophie and Alex's attempt to abandon him is shattered.
The three end up spending the night in a motel but Alex disappears in the middle of the night and Sophie, although worried and upset, agrees to travel with Taylor.
She soon makes a discovery which shocks her and all of the tension explodes in the final scene.
Filled with emotion and suspense, this exciting and adventurous film will leave the audience on the edge of their seats.