The Esoteric Meaning of the Movie “Prisoners”


“Prisoners” is a 2013 thriller film about the abduction of two girls in Pennsylvania. Behind this crime story is an underlying spiritual subtext and subtle symbolism that gives the movie another layer of meaning – one that comments on religion, morality and the hidden forces at play in society. This article will look at the esoteric meaning of “Prisoners”. 


Warning: Gigantic spoilers ahead!

Prisoners is the kind of movie that stays in your mind long after the ending credits roll. This is not only due to its gripping, dramatic story but to the spiritual subtext that underlies it all. As the film unfolds and the crime investigation progresses, esoteric concepts and symbolism are also introduced, giving the movie an entirely new dimension. What appears to be a story about the abduction of two little girls turns into a profound spiritual journey of humans facing adversity and finding themselves lost between good and evil, right and wrong, and morality and immorality.

Prisoners takes place in an average American town, Conyers, Pennsylvania during the time of Thanksgiving. The grey, gritty and unglamorous setting of the movie allows the characters to shine through, as the story is driven by their pains, struggles and dilemmas. Through the background and evolution of each character, the movie comments (and sometimes condemns) some aspects of American society. Some items that are touched upon: Christianity, “preppers”, secret societies and mind control. Let’s look at the most important characters of the movie.

Keller Dover, the Father

Mr. Dover is really, really pissed.

Mr. Dover is really, really pissed.

Played by Hugh Jackman, Keller Dover is a family man, a devout Christian and a “prepper” – someone who maintains a massive stockpile of various goods in his house in case of a major disaster. He is also very patriotic, for example, his favorite song is Star Spangled Banner. While not specifically stated in the movie, Keller somewhat has the profile of a Libertarian or close to the Tea Party movement. However, we quickly realize that in the context of this movie, these traits are far from helpful. In fact, they pretty much lead him to his downfall.

In the very first scene of the movie, Keller Dover recites a prayer right before his son shoots a deer. This sets the tone to the movie where religion mixes with the death of an "innocent bystander".

In the very first scene of the movie, Keller Dover recites a prayer right before his son shoots a deer. This sets the awkward tone of the movie where religion is associated with the death of an “innocent animal”.


He's a "Jesus fish on the pickup" and "cross hanging from the mirror" kind of guy.

Keller Dover is a  “Jesus fish on the truck” and “cross hanging from the mirror” kind of guy. To make things more Jesus-related, Keller is a carpenter.

We also quickly learn that Keller is a “prepper”. On the way back from hunting, Keller gives his son the same advice his father gave him:

“Be ready. Hurricane, flood, whatever ends up being. No more food gets delivered to the grocery store. Gas stations dry up. People just turn on each other. All of a sudden, all that stands between you and being dead … is you.”

Mr Dover's basement is a well-organized stockpile of supplies of food, tools, weapons and even gas masks.

Keller’s basement is a well-organized stockpile of food, tools, weapons and even gas masks.

Although there is nothing wrong or illegal about stockpiling items in one’s  basement, people around Keller act weirdly about it. We get the feeling that it is a taboo subject. When the detective visits Keller’s basement and discovers his “prepper” secret, Keller immediately becomes a suspect. In short, the movie communicates the idea that this type of person is suspicious and not trustworthy.

Upon learning that his little girl has probably been abducted, Keller becomes distraught. As the movie progresses, his desperation turns into madness and Keller kidnaps a guy whom he believes is the culprit and proceeds to torture him.

Although he was considered innocent and released by the police, Keller is convinced that Alex Jones is the culprit. He kidnaps him and tortures him for days to get him to talk.

Keller Dover kidnaps a weird guy named Alex Jones because he appears to know his daughter’s whereabouts.

Although Alex Jones kind of looks and acts like a child molester, we find out that he is innocent. Even worse, it turns out that he himself was abducted as a child and his odd behavior is the result of years of mind control that impaired his intellectual development (he has the IQ of a ten year old boy). The name choice of Alex Jones is interesting because, as many of you might know, it is also the name of the “conspiracy” radio host who promotes the “prepper” movement, constitutionalism and other elements Keller Dover probably agrees with. However, in the movie, Alex Jone’s name is associated with a mentally deficient boy who gets beaten up by Keller. Is this a way to “diss” Alex Jones and the people who agree with him?

Whatever the case may be, by kidnapping and torturing Alex Jones, Keller only further traumatizes an already-damaged person.

Going further into madness, Keller builds a a custom torture chamber where Alex is confined in a little dark space and is showered with scolding hot water.

Going further into madness, Keller builds a custom torture chamber where Alex is confined in a little dark space and is occasionally showered with scolding hot water.

For the rest of the movie, all we see of Alex is his one eye, lighted by that one hole, perhaps a symbol of his perpetual state of mind control.

For the rest of the movie, all we see of Alex is one eye (perhaps representing his perpetual state of mind control), lighted by the hole in his chamber.

So, instead of helping authorities find his daughter or even comforting his family, Keller lashes out at an innocent person and becomes a kidnapper himself.

While Keller’s actions may have stemmed from a noble purpose, he distinctly crosses the boundary between right and wrong. This conflict is further emphasized when Keller turns to prayer to find strength and, perhaps, answers. At one point, during a torture session, Keller recites the Lord’s Prayer:

“…and forgive our trespasses as we forgive …”

But he stops at the point where he is supposed to say “those who trespass against us” –  indicating that he cannot live up the Christian ideals described in the prayer he is reciting.

In short, Keller reacted to his daughter’s abduction in a violent matter, stubbornly focusing on a sole (innocent) person. Instead of providing comfort or seeking actual facts about his daughter’s abduction, Keller relied on instinct mixed with ignorance and anger. Through Keller’s response to the family crisis, the movie does not shine a favorable light on the “religious, patriotic, prepper” profile. Far from being prepared for disaster, Keller became paranoid, irrational, and prone to madness. Furthermore, behind his “good Christian” surface hides an infinite “stockpile” of anger, hate and rage.

Luckily, the detective in charge of the investigation is the exact opposite of Keller.

Detective Loki

Unlike Keller Dover, Detective Loki is rational, methodical, and never strays away from the law. He does not appear to have any kind of family and is portrayed as a loner dedicated to his job. Despite receiving constant verbal abuse from Keller, Loki stays focused on his task and manages to save pretty much everyone involved in this drama.

Loki is the name of a Norse god known to be crafty, quick-witted and sometimes heroic. He is also known to be a trickster, a shape-shifter who eventually turns against the gods. Does Detective Loki share traits with the Norse god he’s named after? It does symbolically represents the anti-thesis of the monotheistic, Judeo-Christian beliefs of Keller Dover. Furthermore, Loki definitely uses his intellectual powers to achieve his aims.

While Keller is associated with Jesus fishes and crosses, Loki is covered in occult symbols:

Detective Loki's Masonic is clearly shown a few times during the movie, often when he is shown using his brain and researching clues regarding the investigation.

Detective Loki’s Masonic ring is clearly displayed throughout the movie. It is most visible during scenes where he is researching clues or reflecting on what is happening. Loki represents the Masonic ideal of obtaining truth through one’s own means and intellect.

Loki has astrological symbols tattooed on his right fingers, which are important symbols of occult mysteries.

On his right hand are tattooed astrological symbols which are also extremely important in occult Mysteries.

On his neck is tattooed an eight-pointed star. In occult symbolism, this is known as the Star of Ishtar, a babylonian goddess associated with the planet Venus.

On his neck is tattooed an eight-pointed star. In occult symbolism, this is known as the Star of Ishtar, a Babylonian goddess associated with the planet Venus.

In short, Loki is associated with the rationality and enlightenment claimed by occult secret societies. In this sense, he is the opposite of the irrational, emotion-based Keller.

Merely through the varied symbolism associated with the characters of Keller Dover and Detective Loki, the movie criticizes the “religious prepper” type while glorifying members of secret societies. But Keller is not the only negative representative of Christianity in the film. While going through a list of sex offenders living in the area, Detective Loki ends up visiting a local priest … and finds him passed out on the floor, drunk. Then Loki finds a dead body in his basement (although it’s the body of a child abductor).

Prisoners also features another poor representative of Christianity:  Holly Jones, the kidnapper.

Holly Jones the Child Abductor, Mind Control and the War on God

Holly Jones standing next to an ironic painting of an angel watching over two children.

Holly Jones stands next to an ironic painting of an angel watching over two children.

Toward the end of the movie we learn that Holly Jones (Alex Jones’ “aunt”) is the one who kidnapped the two little girls. She claims that she and her late husband used to be devout Christians and that they used to drive around “spreading the good word”. However, since they lost their son to cancer, they turned against God. She tells Keller:

“Making children disappear is the war we wage on God. Makes people lose their faith. Turns them into demons like you”.

As we learn about the modus operandi of the Jones couple, we discover that they use basic mind control techniques on the children: They drug the captives, traumatize them by throwing them in dark holes and subject them to crazy mind games. This system is represented with one important symbol: the maze.

The Maze

Detective Loki observes a picture of Holly's husband wearing a maze pendant.

Detective Loki observes a picture of Holly’s late husband who is wearing a maze pendant.

The symbol of the maze is extremely important throughout the movie. It represents the system that abducts children and, more importantly, the state of mind control these children are forced to live in.

The kidnappers gave children maze books saying "Finish all of the mazes and you can go home". This innocent game can become a traumatizing ordeal for a victim of mind control.

On this maze book is written “Finish all the mazes and you can go home”. This is given to the abducted children to mess with their minds.

After days of torture, Alex Jones finally says to Keller: “I am not Alex Jones”, implying that he was abducted by Holly and that he was given an alter persona. When Keller asks him where the kidnapped children are, Jones replies: “They’re in the maze. That’s where you’ll find them.” Of course, Jones does not refer to an actual maze but to the state of mind control the children are subjected to.

Later, Detective Loki finds a suspect named Bob Taylor who acts in bizarre matter and who was also a victim of Holly Jones. He stayed at her house for three weeks and was drugged with a LSD/Ketamine drug cocktail, which is classic a mind control technique. Bob managed to escape from the house, but while Bob is free, his mind is definitely not. We quickly realize that he is still “stuck in the maze”.

Bob's house is fully covered in never-ending mazes.

Bob’s house is covered with never-ending mazes.

While being interrogated by the police, Bob obsessively draws mazes which he claims are "maps" to the kidnapped children.

While being interrogated by the police, Bob obsessively draws mazes which he claims are “maps” to the kidnapped children.

While Bob’s “maps” do not actually lead to the physical location of the children, it leads to their psychological state: Trapped in the mind control maze of their handler. In actual mind control, mazes are an important trigger image that accurately represents a slave’s mind state.  “Maze maps” are programmed into the victim’s internal world to keep them from accessing their core/true personality.

Bob tries to help the police, but his damaged mind does not allow him to give out actual information. When Loki gets aggressive during interrogation and asks for specific answers, Bob says “I can’t …” and kills himself. Actual MK slaves are often programmed to commit suicide in these types of situations.

As Loki examines Bob’s house, he discovers that Bob is completely obsessed with the child abductors and their tactics (he recreates child abductions using dummies as a hobby). While searching Bob’s stuff, Loki finds a book that appears to be written about the Jones.

At Bob's house, Loki examines a book called "Finding the Invisible Man" which was written by an ex-FBI agent.

At Bob’s house, Loki examines a book called “Finding the Invisible Man” which was written by an ex-FBI agent.

According to Loki’s colleague, the book is about a “theoretical suspect believed to be responsible for a bunch of child abductions”. He adds that the book was “totally discredited”. The last page of the book contains an unsolvable maze, which was used by the Jones’ as a sick game to traumatize children.

While the book was discredited, “The Invisible Man” appears to accurately describe the Jones and their system of mind control. However, one can ask: Do the Jones work for a higher organization? Is “The Invisible Man” actually the MK Ultra system of the occult elite? Does the fact that the book was discredited imply that powerful people covered up that story?

Whatever the case may be, the movie has a “happy” ending: The children are rescued and returned to their family. So who is the true prisoner?

The Prisoner

In his frantic search for his daughter, which leads him to kidnap and torture Alex Jones, Keller Dover crosses the line between good and evil. He tries to justify his actions by claiming:

“He’s not a person anymore. He stopped being a person when he took our daughters.”

But by dehumanizing his captive in that manner, Keller stooped to the same level as the child abductors. He became one of them.

Later, when Keller realized that his daughter was at Holly Jones’ house, he rushed there in order to torture her. However, Holly had a gun and forced him to jump in a dark hole.

Instead of saving his daughter, Dover found himself trapped in the same hole his daughter was previously trapped in.

Instead of saving his daughter, Keller is thrown in the same hole his daughter was previously trapped in.

Therefore, Keller himself turns into a captive. After a period of moral tribulation, his time in the dark hole can represent his spiritual death, and can be compared to the three days spent by Jesus Christ in his tomb before being resurrected. In ancient occult secret societies, candidates for initiation were held in darkness for several days to represent the death of their “old self” before they were “spiritually reborn”.

While investigating Holly's house, Loki hears Dover blowing in a whistle found in the hole. The movie ends like this.

While investigating Holly’s house, Loki hears Keller blowing a whistle he found in the hole. The movie ends like this.

Guess who ultimately saves Keller from the hole? Detective Loki. In a sense, Loki is Keller’s savior, the one who frees him from spiritual death and toward a second life. Loki, a representative of Masonic-like occult secret societies, is therefore portrayed as the one who pulls Keller, along with his irrational and hypocritical fervor, out of the hell he put himself into.

While Loki probably saved his life, Keller will nevertheless have to go to prison for the crimes he committed. In the end, there’s only one true prisoner in the movie: Keller Dover.

In Conclusion

Through the characters of Keller Dover and Detective Loki, Prisoners comments on specific elements of society, casting them in either a favorable or unfavorable light. Keller is a family man that is religious, patriotic, and prepared for disaster. While at first, he appears to be the hero of the story, he somewhat turns into a “bad guy”. The attributes that positively defined him in the beginning turn into gigantic flaws causing him to become irrational, sadistic and paranoid. The one who saves the day is Detective Loki, a character literally covered in occult symbolism, hinting that the way of secret societies is the “true light”. Loki’s enlightened ways ultimately give Keller a chance to be reborn.

Prisoners’ narrative and treatment of its characters reflects the direction of mass media today. The Keller Dovers of this world, who are either openly religious, patriotic, or prepared for disaster, are often deemed suspicious and prone to negative action. The values represented by Keller Dover are increasingly being frowned upon by mass media. Are these traits not desirable in the America of the New World Order? In an America where fundamental rights and freedoms are being slowly and steadily revoked, people like Keller Dover are the most likely to take action about it. And the elite does not want that. Perhaps that is why the Department of Homeland Security creates training videos portraying “constitutional, patriotic militias” as terrorist groups. Perhaps they want to find a way to turn them, like Keller, into prisoners.


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303 Comments on "The Esoteric Meaning of the Movie “Prisoners”"


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3 months 28 days ago

Thank you for this great review. What’s stuck in my mind is, would they have found the girls had Keller not kidnapped Alex?
Alex had apparently been keeping the girls company while he was home- would joy have had the chance to escape with an extra pair of eyes on her?
Also, the reason Loki visited Holly at that crucial moment was to inform her that Alex had been found, etc.. Perhaps the attention would have shifted from the Jones family by then had it not been for the kidnapping of Alex.
Any thoughts?

2 months 13 days ago

they would not have found the girls (alive) if keller had not kidnapped alex. holly explains to keller that she kept alex around the house to keep her company. after he disappeared, she began to get lonely and tried to move the girls into the house, which is when joy escaped, ultimately leading to her downfall.

and yea loki was only there in time to save anna because of being sent there to tell her about their discovery of alex. so keller did play a major positive role in this happy ending for the girls.

2 months 13 days ago
you are really trying hard to make a square peg fit into a trapezoidal hole here. i think you guys are kind of hit and miss with your analyses, this one especially. i feel like this movie is more christian than it is anti-christian. one of the prevailing themes is falling from grace and the presence of sin within man. he is falling away from christian values due to his stubbornness and pride, which is revealed as his major character flaw from very early on. when he was about to go kidnap alex, he turns on the car and the… Read more »
7 months 18 days ago

Alex Jones was not innocent.
Holly Jones said Alex was the one who brought the missing children home, she was the one who decided they would stay. Therefore, Alex is a child abductor (although he probably didn't realise it).

3 months 24 days ago

Did you watch the movie?

2 years 1 month ago

Thanks VC! Great minds think alike, lol. I saw this movie and hated it! I was saddened because I love Hugh Jackman, but this movie was creepy and offensive. I caught on to some of the manipulation that was being pushed, especially the Anti-Christian stuff. Just the idea that so called "sane and normal" people would justify the torture of that pitifully weird guy was shocking and repulsive. The movie industry is twisted and sick.

2 years 2 months ago
A true Christian wouldn't kidnap and torture someone because he/she thought that person might be their daughters abductor but the movie (and Hollywood) wants to teach non believers to think Christians are a bunch of unstable nuts just ready to snap and do bad things. When the time comes to round up Christians here like they have been doing around the world ( Egypt for recent example) brain washing movies like this one will have everyone ratting out their Christian neighbors without feeling a bit guilty. I see this in almost all TV and movies now, whatever they want us… Read more »
1 year 18 days ago

Very good review. Saw the exact same context as I was watching it. Did you notice that Loki is shot in the head and bleeds into his right eye. His only good eye is his left eye – the same eye as the "all seeing" occultic eye on the dollar bill.

1 year 2 months ago

loki is the fallen angel, anna is the morning star. Hugh Jack an plays the misguided human sesrching for redemtion and wanders into to flames of hell searching.

1 year 4 months ago

Trying to portray Dover as a Christian falls short. He never goes to church and is just a mean bully.

1 year 10 months ago

This is a fantastic analysis. Brilliant work.

2 years 1 month ago

I get so sick of Christians portrayed as nut cases that kill for God. I have not seen a good Christian portrayed in main stream tv. The good thing is God will be vindicated, He will expose it and them, He will ask why and they will answer

2 years 2 months ago
That was a heavy and slowly movie for me, decided to watch it before redaing VC`s analysis, which is brilliant as always. Noticed many MK mind control triggers troughout and dont know why, but the most memorisable were the blue lights of Loki`s police car, while driving Anna to hospital, after which appears a scene of green, red and yellow lights in front of his dull vision – colour sequences are typical MK techniques. I cant be sure about that, more likely felt it like in intuition, but Im watching FRINGE series now and such things get more and more… Read more »
2 years 2 months ago
Very interesting that Jake Gyllenhaal is a detective with zodiac tattoos, and he also plays a detective in Zodiac. Two movies that combine detectives with astrology. Why is it that actors always have similar themes running through their movies like that? Another coincidence: The actor who played Bob Taylor, also played an insane person in The Dark Knight (paranoid schizophrenic). He was the Joker's thug who got caught on purpose and was wearing a name tag of Rachel Dawes, which marked her for death (actress played by Jake Gyllenhaal's sister). It's all a twisted circle that's so hard to make… Read more »
2 years 2 months ago
All you people that keep asking about the scene where Keller visits Joy at the hospital and question his innocence, did NOT pay close attention!.. She says she heard him there and says "IT put duct tape on our mouths", not "HIM"… So she Says he was there because she overheard him when he came to talk to Holly, she obviously only put the tape on because they were in that back room, and she didn't want Keller to hear the two girls ( same back room Loki found Holly injecting Anna at the end of the movie)..Also, the other… Read more »
2 years 2 months ago

Wow, I usually look at peppers at crazy people or hoarders, but now after seeing this it seems that they have the right idea, if you think about it the "powers that be" want to have control over everything and if they control over the food then they got us, so they don't want anyone to prepare so we can be fully dependent on them. Great Job! VC!

2 years 2 months ago

of course I see the main point of the story as their occult's age old trick of turning black into white and whit into black. Reverse image in the mirror. Good is evil and evil is good. They want to make Christianity and true Patriotism look bad, and occult look good. I do want to see this movie, more so now.

2 years 2 months ago
Ughh this is sickening, I feel that what the lady says about turning people into devils is what has always been planned on a larger scale by the elite, don't you see how they are triggering people and kids through violent movies, medias and games? Desensitizing people gradually, making rape & killing totally ok, this culture of death is giving birth to more psychos in our society, apparently the odds of meeting on are of 1 for every 3, so the chances you have met one are extremely high…freaky! Some christians may seem a little hardcore but I'd rather see… Read more »
2 years 2 months ago

1 in 3 … as low as that. In my city, most young people I encounter are mindless drones … they are uncultured, economically useless (of course not entirely their fault), godless in a new age sense but fluent in the language of drinking and partying. Whenever I encounter a single one who breaks the mould, they are such a rarity that I just wish I could hug them and tell them that they are a rarity.

2 years 2 months ago
These people know exactly what they're doing. In fact, they are very smart. they know very well what kind of agenda they are putting out there for the masses, and it's all put together very carefully and elaborately. It is no coincidence that we see so much symbolism and backwards messages in movies, its all part of the agenda they are creating. The thing that makes me really sad is that there are so many movies that demonstrate the police state, the government's plans, and the people opposing and fighting back YET no one seems to wake up to the… Read more »
2 years 2 months ago

I have this movie at home. I noticed all of the symbolism. Very good movie. Love the dissection by VC.
The stress that Keller suffered with the abduction caused him to be the abductor and torturer. This, of course, as well all know, happens to traumatised people (in all stages of life), but especially in childhood.
Detective Loki – the Trickster or even Satan. Was he saving Keller from Christianity?
And we all know that Beyonce, Katy Perry, et al, were all 'saved' by Satan, don't we?

9 days 22 hours ago
Detective Loki: Loki the Norse figure has been compared to Lucifer (The bringer of Light) from Christianity & by Lucifer meaning Bringer of Light this relates to Masonry who say “Follow the Light”. Venus has commonly been associated with the figure Lucifer unlike Saturn which is associated with Satan. Clearly Loki being a detective seeks Enlightenment and admires the art of Theorizing. Keller: He appears to be a devout Christian from what this article says yet he has Wrath running through his system in which we can all understand from his Daughter being kidnapped and having clear knowledge of the… Read more »
2 months 23 days ago

It’s not possible to join the discussion if comments are not approved. I must have struck a nerve.

3 months 4 days ago

Wow! Nice analysis.

1 year 2 months ago

I M qa u cAnyone else caught up on how much alex jones looks like skrillex?

1 year 6 months ago

Excellent discerning of spirits!
Please do more newer movies more often.
God bless.

1 year 3 months ago

Except the author forgot a big one. What was the song playing in the very beginning when the RV was traveling down the Dover's road?

"put your hand in the hand of the man from galilee "

1 year 7 months ago

I don't normally give much credence to the things you mention in this article, but I couldn't help but pick up some of it. The one that nagged me and stood out for me, was the surname "Loki".

I wondered just why the name of a Norse God was applied to this character(I mean come on- it's a very uncommon surname) and then I began to see some of the meaning behind the film.