Writer/director Michael Morrissey’s The Girl Who Got Away scared the living piss out of me. More than once, my new MTV pajama pants didn’t know what hit them. I wasn’t expecting that as this is not technically a horror film; it is a variation of the police procedural sub-genre about hunting a serial killer. This means the frights should be barricaded behind the thin blue line of law enforcement, with the atrocities diluted through the lead investigator’s occupational duties to stop them. But this thriller is one of the most frightening movies of its kind since Silence of the Lambs.
Everything starts in 1998 in the upstate New York town of Massena, on the night that child killer Elizabeth Caulfield (Kaye Tuckerman) is finally caught. Caulfield kidnapped five little girls who she killed off, except for one who escaped. Two decades later, that little girl, Christina Bowden (Lexi Johnson), is all grown up and is a school teacher. It is her birthday, and she announces her adoption of troubled teen Lisa Spencer (Willow McCarthy). Christina feels that she can help change Lisa’s life because she understands carrying demons from childhood trauma.
“…starts guarding Christina’s house while trying to get further information on the killer…”
Right at the moment, everything is at its most peachy keen. Christina gets the news that Caulfield has escaped prison. She cancels her party and drives Lisa right back to her foster home without explanation, as Christina is positive Caulfield is heading straight to Massena. The town’s new sheriff, Jamie Nwosu (Chukwudi Iwuji), starts guarding Christina’s house while trying to get further information on the killer from the retired sheriff Gerald Bailey (Ned Van Zandt). This proves challenging as Gerald’s health is failing, and his wife Amy (Anni Krueger) limits Jamie’s access to him. Her coldness to the new sheriff may also have something to do with the interracial relationship their daughter Arlene (Debra Lord Cooke) had with Jamie previously.
Meanwhile, all the emotional progress Christina has made starts crumbling as images from her past comes back to get her. She finds herself waking up on the floor with scratched-up hands. Teen Lisa feels abandoned by Christina and runs away right when Caulfield is loose. Then the body count begins.
"…one of the most frightening movies of its kind since Silence of the Lambs."