Prisoners is a movie directed by Denis Villeneuve and released in 2013, available on Netflix US starting from December 2022. Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, among others, it’s one of those mystery movies where a good detective tries to discover the truth about the disappearance of two little girls, Anna and Joy. At the same time, several plot twists and cryptic events happen. The plot is not always easy to follow, and the ending could leave some questions unanswered. In this article, you will find the plot explained, and you will discover what happens in the movie, who kidnapped the girls, and what the role of Bob Taylor is.
You can find the official trailer for Prisoners here on Youtube.
Prisoners ending explained: who kidnapped the girls?
While Prisoners‘ plot goes on, we keep changing suspects about who kidnapped the girls, Anna and Joy: first, we suspect Alex Jones, especially after his comment out of the police station, “They didn’t cry until I left them”; then we start to believe to Detective Loki’s opinion and realize that Alex cannot be a kidnapper; we start suspecting (this time heavily) Bob Taylor, as many hints seem against him. But we discover the truth only at the movie’s ending.
The kidnapper in the movie Prisoners is Holly Jones, the lady we believed to be Alex’s aunt. Holly is a child abductor and was doing it together with her husband, who’s the man found dead in the cellar of the former priest Patrick Dunn. Holly and her husband were abducting children after their son died of cancer, as a war against God: their goal was to make also other parents suffer as they did, turning them into evil. The husband had an obsession with mazes, which somehow transferred to all kidnapped children. Alex is not their adopted kid, but the first child they seized, and his real name is Barry Milland.
One day, the husband, Mr. Holly, ends up trapped by the priest, leaving Holly alone. She does her best to continue the job they were doing together.
One crucial detail is that the person who practically took the girls from the street in front of their house is actually Alex. However, he had no intention of kidnapping them; it was more like a game for him (he has the mental age of a 6-year-old). He brought them to his home, where Holly decided to keep them. That’s why Alex says that sentence to Mr. Dover in front of the police station: he really took the girls, and the girls were not scared of him. They started to be scared when they realized that Holly Jones had no intention of releasing them.
In conclusion: Holly Jones is a child abductor, as her husband was, and she’s the real kidnapper of all the children missing in that area. Alex is the one who practically took them into the RV, but he’s not an accomplice; he’s actually a kidnapped kid like all the others.
Now that all this is clear and the plot of Prisoners has been explained, let’s clarify the most challenging point of the plot: what’s the role of Bob Taylor, the guy who gets arrested?
Bob Taylor in Prisoners: what did he do?
Bob Taylor is also one of the kids kidnapped by Mr. and Mrs. Jones years before. Holly Jones even mentions him, saying that “she completely forgot about him until she didn’t see him on the TV.” He has nothing to do with the kidnapped girls. He escaped from his abductors when he was a kid, but the experience leaves a deep scar on his psyche. He grows up as a deranged adult.
One day, he finds the book “Finding the Invisible Man” about a child abductor obsessed with mazes, and something clicks in his mind. He starts to recreate imitative behaviors that simulate the activity of a child abductor: he buys kids clothes, steals mannequins, and buries them in his yard; he also enters the home of Anna and Joy and steals some of their clothes, then stains them with pig blood and close them into big boxes with snakes. It’s a crazy combination of all the elements that traumatized him when he was a kid: the maze (the obsession of his kidnapper), the snakes (he was trapped with real snaked after being kidnapped), bodies, blood, stained clothes… there is no logic in what he does, but all elements belong to his terrible personal story.
When he’s arrested, his disturbed mind feels deeply guilty for his behavior. He confesses to Detective Loki that he killed all the abducted children, but it’s a complete lie; he never abducted any child. When the detective demands him to draw a map of the place where the girls are hidden, he makes his best effort to draw the maze he remembers from Mr. Jones’ necklace. And when he has his chance, he commits suicide, ending his painful story.
Bob Taylor is one of the many victims of the movie Prisoners. He did nothing evil but acted like the “invisible man” who needed to be found. His presence in the movie complicates the plot, confusing the spectators, and that’s why the plot and the ending, in Prisoners, need to be explained.