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Review: ‘Missing’

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A house all to yourself, immense amounts of alcohol, and a crazy rager sound like the makings of a perfect summer before college.

But for June, her dream summer suddenly turns into her worst nightmare when her absent mother goes missing.

"Missing," just as the title suggests, shares a story about a girl whose mother goes missing while on vacation to Colombia with her boyfriend. Starring "Euphoria" actress Storm Reid, the movie shows June taking matters into her own hands when her search ends in international red tape. Assisted by the technology around her and a helpful Colombian on a freelancer site, June’s journey to find her mother leads to more questions than answers.

Similar to its sister film, "Searching," directors Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick use technology as the film’s main narrative medium. From computer screens to FaceTime calls and the camera in someone’s Apple watch, the film utilizes the countless screens around us to tell a fascinating story in a truly unique way.

With most of the film playing out through June’s laptop, the audience watches along as she scours the internet for clues, and, of course, engages in some typical internet habits such as using the same password everywhere and struggling to communicate with Siri.

Despite being a rather interesting technique and creative choice, the camera’s fixed status makes it difficult to see the actors and their expressions.

Although the audience picks up a general idea of what occurred, some details are lost since we are only able to see one viewpoint or perspective. However, I found the relatable and realistic bits of internet jokes a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the movie’s dynamic.

For those concerned about the film’s supposed fear factor, I can personally attest that I was often more curious than scared at the movie’s twists, turns, and general plot points. The movie’s plot kept me enthralled as I watched June experience a rollercoaster of emotions. As her search led to several plot twists and unexpected answers, I couldn’t help but sit at the edge of my seat, wondering where the internet spiral would lead our protagonist.

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Unfortunately, the story’s twists and turns fell in with some typical cliches and tropes of usual mysteries or thrillers. If you’re more familiar with these genres, you might pick up on the arguably predictable plot early on. Despite this, the predictability didn’t take away from my own enjoyment of the film.

The most central relationship in the film revolves around June and her mother. "Missing" features the classic “taking your parents for granted” trope as June gets annoyed with the little things at the movie's beginning. She continues to resent her mom until she goes missing, making her regret her last words and actions with her mother.

As I left the theater, I walked away thinking how impactful films like these are. I immediately rushed to text my parents that overdue “I love you,” and reminded them that their efforts are always seen and appreciated, even when situations turn difficult.

If you’re dying for an innovative thriller, a solid mystery, or looking for something to fulfill your true crime obsession, then this movie’s perfect for you.

"Missing" premieres in theaters nationwide Jan. 20.

Reach writer Dominique Visperas at Twitter: @dominiquevisp

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