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Lifetime Review: 'Abduction Runs in The Family'

A woman seeks out unlikely help to find her missing daughter in this well-acted Lifetime drama that runs out of steam in the final act.

By Trevor WellsPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

Alyssa Manning (Jessica Morris) certainly didn't have an ordinary childhood. Abducted from her parents and "raised" by her kidnapper for seven years before she was rescued, Alyssa has since channeled her trauma into a successful career as a podcaster. But just as her memoir about the experience is about to be published, Alyssa's past trauma comes back to haunt her. Her kidnapper Miles Simon (James Hyde) is being released from prison, and the idea of the man who abducted her being a free man has Alyssa feeling paranoid and overprotective of her daughter Emma (Charlotte Hare). Knowing she needs to let go of the past to move forward, Alyssa tries to put her mind at ease.

But her fears are confirmed when a trip to the park ends with Emma disappearing. Dismayed, Alyssa is initially convinced Miles had to have had something to do with it. But after finally meeting with her former kidnapper, Alyssa wonders if someone else might be the culprit--and if working with Miles might be her best chance of finding her daughter.

It's a good thing IMDb only labeled Abduction Runs in the Family as a drama. If it tried to tag it as a mystery, that would've been false advertising. The near-microscopic suspect pool makes it impossible not to figure out ahead of time who's responsible for Emma's kidnapping. The only element that throws things for a loop is Miles. While he's quick to proclaim his innocence and offer his help to Alyssa, you still might spend the whole movie wondering if he's actually reformed or simply hiding his true colors. That and the overall good cast of actors keeps Abduction Runs in the Family's average pace engaging and keeps the viewer watching as Alyssa grapples with her past while searching for her daughter in the present. While the climax may be lacking in thrills, the story leading up to it has a lot of emotional weight to it.

Much of that emotional weight is attributable to the cast, particularly Jessica Morris. Alyssa Manning is a troubled but good-hearted person and Morris sells her character's flaws just as well as she sells Alyssa's sympathetic qualities. Because of residual childhood trauma, Alyssa is overly protective of Emma and apprehensive over the possibility of letting her relationship with her boyfriend Grant develop into something more serious. Seeing her snap at and break up with Grant over a non-existent mistake he made with Emma is pretty frustrating, as is Alyssa pushing Grant away again when he offers to help her after Emma goes missing. But none of Alyssa's harsh and accusatory actions go unaddressed. She expresses deep remorse when her actions hurt the people she cares about and apologizes whenever she lets her emotions overwhelm her or cloud her judgment. You understand why Alyssa acts the way she does and root for her to make amends, find Emma, and heal her old wounds once and for all.

James Hyde joins Morris in strengthening the film's poignant story as former kidnapper Miles Simon. Don't get me wrong, there are moments when you might doubt Miles' claims of turning over a new leaf. But Miles' gentle interactions with Alyssa will have you believing he's a changed man. Hyde makes you believe that Miles has realized his grief didn't justify him stealing a child from their family and wants to make amends with Alyssa. Hyde and Morris carry the interactions between Alyssa and Miles with an appropriate air of familiarity and (from Alyssa's side) distrust. Their years together as pseud0-father and daughter are still fresh to mind and Alyssa makes it clear she doesn't see Miles as a monster like the rest of the world does. At the same time, she knows what Miles put her through was reprehensible and feels conflicted about turning to him for help. It's a compelling dynamic that makes up for the slow progression of the "Where is Emma?" plot.


Unfortunately, both Morris and Hyde suffer as a result of the clunky climax. After "Sarah" is finally confirmed to be Miles' scorned long-lost daughter Sophie, we're treated to a sequence of Alyssa confirming the obvious and working with Miles to find Sophie and Emma. After that, we finally get to the big three-way confrontation, but thanks to some bad dialogue and acting, it's not a fearsome showdown that makes up for the long buildup. Sarah Navratil is the weakest of the three as Emma's vengeful kidnapper. As Sarah, she's bland, and as Sophie, her psychotic breakdown is too stilted and forced to be threatening or even entertaining.

Similarly stiff is Hyde's delivery as Miles pleads in vain for his daughter to surrender. Morris walks away mostly unscathed, if simply because Alyssa isn't all that involved in the finale outside of a pair of brawls with Sophie. The second brawl notably results in Sophie's poorly filmed demise--a rather anticlimactic end to a climax that didn't have that much energy to begin with. At least the epilogue gives Alyssa and Miles' journey a fittingly bittersweet conclusion. As much as the two grow to understand each other over the course of the movie, it doesn't change the past and how they can't be in each other's lives if they want to truly heal. It's bound to touch your heart and make up a little bit for Sophie's letdown of a swan song.

Spoilers Over

The supporting cast holds a couple of gems, including Morris's frequent partner-in-Lifetime Jason-Shane Scott. Bringing his usual charisma and screen presence to Alyssa's ultra-sweet boyfriend Grant, Scott (unsurprisingly) bounces well off Morris and makes you feel bad for Grant when he's unfairly dumped and then accused of kidnapping. While Grant takes the insinuation in stride, Alyssa's hot-tempered ex-husband Tony blows up on her for causing the police to suspect him in an explosive cameo from fellow soap opera alum Jason Cook. But like Miles, you feel for the guy in spite of his inexcusable actions. For all his callous remarks towards Alyssa, it's clear that Tony loves Emma and is devastated that she's gone missing. Lastly, there's Tryphena Wade as Alyssa's cop bestie Grace. As kind and supportive as Grant and a more relaxed counterpart to the perpetually stern Detective Barkley (Daniel Joo), Wade gives a lovable performance as Grace comforts Alyssa and does what she can to help rescue Emma. You'll also feel for Grace when her tragic backstory is brought to light.

Before the last twenty minutes send it falling off the rails, Abduction Runs in the Family makes for a relatively enjoyable Lifetime drama. The concept behind the movie is a unique one, even if Alyssa and Miles' unconventional alliance isn't explored to its full potential. But the pacing is on the uneven side and the climax doesn't have anything to offer that makes the wait worthwhile. As I said before, though, the story preceding that unsatisfying conclusion is a compelling one and has a strong pair of lead actors to bring it to life. Add in some equally talented co-stars and you've got enough flavor to counteract the film's less-than-stellar storytelling. So while it may not be the Lifetime movie to watch if you're looking for big thrills, Abduction Runs in the Family has an emotionally heavy story that's sure to keep your interest from waning too much.

Score: 6.5 out of 10 adoption paperwork folders.


About the Creator

Trevor Wells

Aspiring writer and film lover: Lifetime, Hallmark, indie, and anything else that strikes my interest. He/him.

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Twitter: @TrevorWells98

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Email: [email protected]

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    Trevor WellsWritten by Trevor Wells

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