The Unbelievably Must-See True Story of “Abducted in Plain Sight”

Back to Article
Back to Article

The Unbelievably Must-See True Story of “Abducted in Plain Sight”

Nadia Starbinski, Entertainment Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Think of the most ridiculously creative story you could ever make up, add a Quentin Tarantino-like thriller twist to it, multiply that by 50 and in a nutshell that’s what Netflix’s latest documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight, is.

The true story takes place in 1974, where 12-year-old Jan Broberg is raped, abused and abducted from a small church-going community in Idaho by a trusted neighbor and close family friend right in front of her parents’ eyes.

As traumatic and horrifying as the experience sounds, the details become more disturbing and twisted as the story unfolds.

The 90-minute film, directed by Skye Borgman and originally released in early 2017, made waves in the film festival circuit before landing its Netflix debut earlier this month.

Though full of outrageous revelations, each more shocking than the last, Abducted in Plain Sight doesn’t exploit its scandalous content. Instead, Borgman takes an emotional route, unraveling the story in intimate and heartbreaking one-on-one interviews with Jan, her parents, sisters, and the frustrated FBI investigator still very much haunted by this case.

It becomes easily impossible early on to watch the documentary without growing tired with the individuals involved in the bizarre story of how Jan Broberg was brainwashed into having sex with Robert Berchtold, a man nearly 30 years her senior, in order to save the world and her family members.

You heard it right, and the threat of “having sex to save the world” was only the first wild and outlandish detail of a whole slew of things that involves adultery, pedophilia, aliens, the Mormon church, and the most willfully blind and naive parents.

However, the point of Abducted in Plain Sight is not to shame the Brobergs. Jan, who is now an actress and appears on-camera throughout the film, says her reason for participating in the documentary is to “help parents and kids be more attuned to predatory warning signs.”

“I constantly questioned if this had really happened,’ Director Borgman told Vanity Fair about how she was skeptical of Jan Broberg’s story in the beginning. ‘Then, while we were working on the film, one of Berchtold’s other alleged victims reached out to us and told us a story about him using this alien psychology and saying, ‘You’re a princess from a different planet.’ He used this whole alien story on her, and that was the moment for me when I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s real. He did it.'”

In-between her time acting, Broberg is now a devoted spokeswoman on the #MeToo movement and makes it a priority to spread awareness on sexual assault and unsolved child molestation cases.

While the film did leave the audience with a few unanswered questions, it was overall a creepy and ruthlessly riveting crime documentary that takes the audience on a mind-blowingly emotional roller-coaster.

The most chilling takeaway may be this: You never know what anyone is capable of doing in private. Not your seemingly friendly neighbor, and not even your own parents.