In this true crime documentary, a family falls prey to the manipulative charms of a neighbor, who abducts their adolescent daughter. Twice.
Director: Skye Borgman
Information Page: https://www.newonnetflix.info/info/81000864
Worth watching more than once, get angry, be shocked but remember it’s the 1970’s…
“Abducted in Plain Sight” is possibly one of the most unbelievable documentaries that I have watched in a long time, in fact I have watched it several times over the course of the last few weeks so I could do this review justice. It has made me angry and it has shocked me each time I’ve watched it, and I think that I would also advise you to watch it more than once, because the first time you watch it you will be in too much shock to take in the what is being said.
There is nothing revolutionary about how “Abducted In Plain sight” is filmed, it is mainly a talking heads style film, where we see on screen and hear from the family of Jan Broburg who was abducted, we also hear from Jan herself along with the lead FBI agent and Bob Berchtold’s brother. Whilst we don’t see Bob Berchtold on screen we do hear audio recordings of his voice, which at times can be hard to listen to. There is also a series of sepia-toned reconstructive videos which add a more dynamic visual element to the narrative. It can be hard at times to follow the exact timeline of events as it is not always told in chronological order, and does jump backwards and forwards at times.
Director Skye Borgman leaves a lot of unanswered questions in this documentary and really doesn’t dig very deeply into anything that is said. There are times when the issue of this happening in the 1970’s in a small Mormon town are briefly mentioned, but this is never really investigated, neither is the issue of the influence of the church over the parent’s actions. In some ways this does not put the Church of The Latter Day saints in a good light as the issue of them all being from the same church and that elders at the church convince Jan’s family that Bob Berchtold would not harm her so there was no need to involve the authorities.
While watching “Abducted In Plain Sight” it is important to remember that all these things are happening in early 1970’s small town America. This is a time when people were taught about stranger danger, family and family friends were not seen as being a danger, a time when moving towns would mean that you’d leave your skeletons behind you, so whilst if it were to happen today in a media driven more clued up society there would have been red flags to the actions; back then it was unheard of. Jan Broburg was first abducted in 1974 which was five years before the first missing child was printed on the side of a milk carton in America. In fact in one piece Jan’s dad actually says “We’d never heard of child molesters, we didn’t know what they were.” and the FBI agent says “We were taught stranger danger never about paedophiles, I’m sure the word was in the dictionary somewhere but we didn’t know it”. I also think that the lengths that someone would go to to not only manipulate a child but a whole family has probably been unheard of since.
All in all I felt that “Abducted In Plain Sight” was a good documentary however, it did leave me asking more questions than it answered, but with all the attention the documentary is getting maybe Netflix could pick up the story for one of it’s true crime docuseries to give us a bit more of a background and pad the story out a bit more.
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!