The third, and final, installment of my thoughts on Prisoners.
This is the final shot of the film. Detective Loki just heard a sound. He almost dismissed it as a trick of his mind, but after hearing it again, he looks in the direction of the sound, obviously intending to take it seriously. He doesn’t yet know who’s making the sound. The audience does. It’s Keller Dover. He’s been shot in the leg and tossed into a hole by the woman who abducted his child.
As a final shot, it plays to plot. It answers the question “Will Keller Dover be saved?” The answer is, “Most likely, yes.” If you are a real sadist the filmmakers leave you enough room to imagine Loki leaves without ever investigating the sound, but based on everything we know about the character.. it’s a “happy” ending.
As the film stands, I felt the satisfaction of this plot thread being (mostly) wrapped up, but not much more.
Wonder if the filmmakers had cut to Keller Dover in the hole? With only the muted sounds of the world above to respond to his call for help? If they done this, I would have been left with a lingering sense of anxiety. Did he get saved? The answer is still “probably” but it creates another emotional layer that I would have appreciated. It also potentially references the great shot of Alex Jones in the box Dover built for him.
It’s possible the audience would have been left with a more existential question than “Did he get saved,” but instead “Do I want him to get saved?”
Luckily, because the filmmakers chose to end on Loki’s shot, I didn’t have to ask myself if I think a man who tortures a mentally handicapped adult because he thinks, rightly or wrongly, that this adult is guilty of abducting his child, should be saved.
Existential crisis averted.