Parents' Guide to

Abducted in Plain Sight

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Disturbing docu about '70s pedophile; violence, sex.

Movie NR 2018 91 minutes
Abducted in Plain Sight Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+
The movie is definitely watchable. The details of the story are truly mind boggling. I mean as each one emerges you won't believe it could get any more awful, or any more insane. And the details are myriad. The subjects are heavy and confusing and very explicit. I think even kids 14+ need a parent there with them if they do watch. And be prepared for some serious conversations about things like pedophilia, infidelity, sexuality, abduction, aliens, Stockholm Syndrome, and much more. I think some of these subjects are important to talk to kids about. Obviously they need to be aware of the reality of dangerous people etc. But this is a very lurid, voyeuristic, almost tabloid (except it's all true!), journey through some heavy topics. And I don't believe kids are ready to process them when introduced that way.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (3):

The story is too strange to seem real, which makes this disturbing documentary wildly watchable, even as it sometimes falters as a piece of filmmaking. Director Skye Borgman chose to present interviews with victim Jan and family, allowing them to tell the story chronologically without explanatory preamble about who the Brobergs are today. This choice contributes to an impression early in Abducted in Plain Sight that the Brobergs, especially Jan's parents, were imbeciles who continued -- against FBI advice -- to play into the hands of a pedophile stalking their daughter, even after he kidnapped her. It's not until the end of the film that we learn that Jan and her mother co-wrote a book about their agonizing experiences and now travel and speak widely about how to protect children from predators. At least by film's end we are finally left with an understanding that the Brobergs, permanently damaged by Berchtold, now recognize how badly they handled the predator and how irresponsible they were about protecting their daughter.

That said, parents will want to think long and hard about how this material might negatively affect any but the oldest and most mature teens in the house. The narrative is eerily reminiscent of the story of Michael Jackson's rapport with the parents of his alleged abuse victims. Jackson was selling his celebrity to the parents. This underscores exactly how skillful Berchtold, with nothing but charm and his wiles to peddle, had to have been.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 16, 2018
  • On DVD or streaming: January 15, 2019
  • Director: Skye Borgman
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 91 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: February 18, 2023

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