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Top 10 Gritty Movies Like 'A Simple Favor'

Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.


What Movies Are Like A Simple Favor?

Ever feel like disappearing? Just picking up your bag one day, not tell anybody and just go?

We’ve all had that thought one time or another in our lives, but it’s unlikely many of us have or will carry it out. Why? Because there are too many things that would go wrong if we did - unfulfilled responsibilities, lingering questions, and distraught people, just to name a few. So, you can imagine what an unwilling disappearance would cause if even a willing one has the potential to cause this much damage.

Once in a while, however, a movie comes along that we can live vicariously through. Movies like A Simple Favor, which raise several questions, “Did she disappear herself?," “Did something happen to her?"

Throughout cinema’s history, there have been movies about people disappearing for various reasons, some benign, some nefarious and all troubling. Here’s a list of 10 films like A Simple Favor in which a person disappeared:

Films Similar to A Simple Favor?

  1. The Lady Vanishes (1979)
  2. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
  3. Covered Tracks (1938)
  4. On The Sly (2012)
  5. Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)
  6. Gone Girl (2014)
  7. Man on Ground (2011)
  8. Carmen G (2011)
  9. Keane (2004)
  10. Saving Private Perez (2011)

1. The Lady Vanishes (1979)

The father of modern cinema makes his appearance on this list with The Lady Vanishes. The story follows a young socialite named Iris who strikes a friendship with an elderly woman named Miss Froy, when their train heading to England is delayed, causing the passengers to stay overnight in a hotel.

When they wake the next morning to catch the train, Iris is hit on the head causing her to blackout. When she wakes, however, she discovers that Miss Froy is nowhere to be found and the passengers deny having ever seen her before. With the help of a traveling musicologist, Iris must now uncover the mystery behind Miss Froy’s disappearance as the train hurtles towards England.

The Lady Vanishes is widely regarded as the film that put Hitchcock on the map, especially after three unsuccessful tries at the box office. The film was an instant hit amongst audiences, with the British Film Institute ranking the film as the 35th best British film of the 20th century.

Also, it's interesting to note is that The Lady Vanishes is the only film that won Hitchcock the award for Best Director, the only time he ever received an award for his directing. The Lady Vanishes is available for purchase on Amazon Prime.


2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Based on a novel by the same name, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a psychological thriller that follows the story of a disgraced financial reporter named Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig), who is given a chance at redemption when a wealthy industrialist hires him to solve the disappearance of his niece - a disappearance that happened forty years ago.

In order to do this, Mikael enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander (played by Rooney Mara), an ingenious computer hacker who has suffered extreme emotional and sexual abuse and trusts no one. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was very well received by critics and audiences alike with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86% and an IMDb rating of 7.6/10 and praise for the script, directing and acting.

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With all the accolades coming its way, it’s difficult to imagine the problems that beset this film before its production, including a casting nightmare that had actresses such as Natalie Portman, Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, and Emma Watson just to name a few.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store. Those looking for a movie like A Simple Favor will love what this sly feature brings to the table.

3. Covered Tracks (1938)

Séraphine is visiting Paris to attend the 1867 World Exhibition but due to the large crowds flocking into the city for the event, they are forced to check into different hotels. Exploring the city at night, her mother suddenly takes ill and is forced to retire to her hotel. When morning comes around and Séraphine goes to check in on her, she has disappeared along with everything that showed she had been there.

To make matters worse, no one seems to remember having met her and everyone begins to suspect Séraphine might not be as sane as she seems. Scared and worried about her mother, Séraphine now scours the city looking for someone who believes her, and most importantly, can help her find her mother.

Whether she succeeds in her mission makes up for the rest of the tale.

4. On the Sly (2012)

Also known as À pas de Loup, On the Sly looks at the world through the eyes of a six-year-old girl who believes her parents ignore her to the point where she might as well be invisible. So, when the family comes to the end of their family weekend retreat and her parents pack up into their station wagon to head back to Paris, she decides to test this theory by slamming the back door but not get in.

Her theory is proved correct. Now on her own, she begins her own adventure in the forest as the audience watches her imagination run wild. Unlike most films on this list, the audience stays with the disappeared person and lets the rest of the world figure it out for themselves.

This French-Belgian collaboration flies under the radar, but the plot and the acting by the star of the movie, Wynona Ringer (who also happens to be the director’s daughter) make this movie worth the watch.


5. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Valentine’s Day in the year 1900 was a strange and dark one for the people of Woodend, Victoria in Australia. The typically strict headmistress of the all girl’s private school, Appleyard College was particularly feeling the love when she decided to let the girls out for a picnic and school field trip to the scenic local rock formation known as Hanging Rock.

Feeling this is probably a day of freedom, several of the girls venture off in a bid to explore, ignoring the instructions not to leave the group. It’s not until much later when the headmistress discovers that not only several girls, but a teacher also has disappeared without a trace.

The story then follows the effects this mysterious and mass disappearance has on the community. Based on a novel by the same name, Picnic at Hanging Rock is a film that drives you mad with questions. There is no kidnapper, supernatural being, serial killer, or any person you can blame for the disappearance.

The girls have just simply disappeared and it is this lack of closure that drives the community mad. This Australian film wowed critics and received critical acclaim, spawning a miniseries of the same name in 2018.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store. If you're looking for a capricious flick like A Simple Favor, Picnic At The Hanging Rock should be your best bet.


6. Gone Girl (2014)

It’s rare that a movie about a disappearance causes so many polarizing views, with some feeling complete sympathy and others total hatred for the victim. This 2014 psychological drama tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne (played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike), who look like your archetypal happy couple.

However, when Amy disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary, attention and suspicion fall on Nick, unraveling a bed of lies that seemingly point to the fact underneath the veneer of happiness that something was going on with this couple and that Nick may not be as innocent as he seems.

Over more than two hours, Gone Girl dissects the secrets holding this couple together. It will leave you with questions about the lengths you would go in your relationship. The film was widely praised with special attention going to Rosamund Pike’s performance as she raked in nominations from the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actress.

The film currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 87% and an IMDb score of 8.1/10. Gone Girl is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.


7. Man on Ground (2011)

Man on Ground is a Nigerian-South African collaborative effort directed by Akin Omotoso. It tells the story of two estranged brothers, Ade and Femi. Ade seems to have his life in order and is a successful banker, while Femi lives in exile in South Africa due to fractious political affiliations in Nigeria.

When Ade visits South Africa for an unrelated matter, he finds that his brother is missing. Ade begins to investigate the disappearance of his brother, uncovering the difficult truths and circumstances surrounding his brother’s everyday life in Johannesburg. The film is beautifully shot and touches on how xenophobia affects the lives of many in South Africa.

The film garnered much praise after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for several awards by the Africa Film Academy, winning in two categories.


8. Carmen G (2011)

One of the lesser-known but better films on this list, Carmen G will break your heart and trouble your mind. The film follows the story of Carmen, a Latin-American woman of little means who immigrates to the United States in an attempt to get away from the violent gangs that killed her husband.

Carmen arrives hoping for a better life for herself and her infant son Mateo, but her true terror and heartache begins that first night in a New York motel room when Mateo disappears and is never seen again. The story follows the heart-wrenching tale of Carmen as she spends the next thirty years of her life looking for her son while trying to make ends meet and survive herself as her health deteriorates.

Written by the duo of Hilda Denmer and Hunter M. Altman, directed by Hernán A. Herrera, and starring Pierangeli Llinas in the lead role as Carmen, this moving film documents in stark detail the effects the disappearance of a loved one can have on a person.


9. Keane (2004)

Keane is a missing person’s movie that messes with your mind as you watch it. Struggling with the loss of his daughter who was last seen at a bus terminal in New York, a thirty-year-old Keane believing she has been kidnapped and lost to him forever, drowns himself in alcohol and drugs. However, when a young single mother and her daughter move in next to him, Keane reaches out to them, believing that in helping them, he will find the closure and help he needs to cope with his pain.

The problem is, Keane is a mentally ill person battling schizophrenia, so it’s not clear if his interest in the mother and especially her daughter is benign or indicative of a much more sinister motive. The film seeds these questions as the movie goes along, posing the biggest question of all, was the loss of his daughter even real to begin with?

If you’re up for a little mental gymnastics and a film that makes you question your belief in a missing person’s existence, Keane is exactly what the doctor orders.


10. Saving Private Perez (2011)

A much lighter entry on this list, Saving Private Perez is a Mexican adventure comedy that turns the hilarity on an otherwise depressing search and rescue mission up several notches. The story follows a Mexican crime lord named Julian Perez whose brother, Juan Perez is a United States Army Private fighting in Iraq.

If you can set aside the thought of how crazy it is that the two ended up on such extreme ends of the moral spectrum for a second, the story begins when Julian is told his brother has gone missing. Distraught, Julian’s mother begins to badger him, asking him to go and rescue his brother on what is essentially a suicide mission.

Julian obliges and picks the best of the best for the mission: two fat old men, a convicted murderer who has been liberated from prison, and Julian's best friend, a Native American tomato farmer. Together, they travel to Turkey to meet the man who will bring the whole operation together, Sasha the Russian drug addict.

It’s amazing how Saving Private Perez is able to fit in so many clichés to tell its story without ever seeming contrived and staying very funny. If anything, it’s the stereotypes that make the film what it is. Starring Miguel Rodarte and directed by Beto Gómez, Saving Private Perez will take you through themes of redemption, humanity, family bonds and most importantly, have you split your sides laughing. Saving Private Perez is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.

Did I miss out on any other movies like A Simple Favor? Let me know in the comments section.

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