After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online. (from IMDB)
In 2018, indie film Searching, led by John Cho, released, utilizing the unique concept where all footage was shown through web cams and cellphone videos to paste together a completely different way to tell a story and watch a mystery unfold. It was a tense thriller about a teenage girl having mysteriously disappeared and a single father's desperate attempt to find her, in spite of being unfamiliar with the ways of the internet. The computer/phone-only video storytelling method had a bit of a claustrophobic feel that made it just a little bit more real because it was utilizing cameras we all use in our everyday lives. Now, five years later, the team that brought us Searching return with Missing, another thriller cut from the same cloth and utilizing the same kind of storytelling method, but told on a grander scale.
Searching blew me away when I first saw it - especially as a parent myself - and Missing feels a lot like that film, with the intensity ramped up. This time around, the story is about a mother who goes missing, and the daughter who desperately tries to search for her. In the same way that Searching put a spotlight on internet technology and the dangers of things like social media, Missing goes even further. In a way, the movie plays out as kind of a PSA for being careful with the technology we take for granted on a day-to-day basis. (Let's face it; what you can do with it is a bit scary.) The story is still rooted emotionally in family, and kind of serves as a reverse-Searching with a daughter who's drifting away from her mother realizing how much she loves her when she goes missing. Searching was from the perspective of a parent, while Missing is very much from the perspective of a teenager (and this time, she's super tech-savvy). We even see the central character, June, attending a teen party where she gets super drunk, and then see highlights from it captured with various cameras from people at the party. One really clever moment shows a quick collage of cell phone videos rapidly overlapping each other (like a stop motion movie) as the camera spins around June.
Missing, and its predecessor Searching, are definitely acquired tastes when it comes to how they're shot and arranged, but Missing feels like a more complete experience than Searching did. Searching felt very limited by largely going through one man's perspective, but in Missing, it's more of a globe-trotting effort, with it stretching from L.A. to Colombia, for example. The story is also filled with surprising twists and turns that keep the viewer on their toes. Just when you think you may be ahead of the game with having it figured out, the story pulls the rug out from under you with a shocking revelation. In the end, it all comes together pretty well, but it's definitely more unrealistic and unlikely than the events of Searching. Still, it sure does make for a really engaging thriller.
The content for Missing is a bit rougher than what we saw with Searching. There is some pretty intense violence shown, some of which could even be triggering for those who've been a victim of abuse. A scene towards the end sees a character stabbed in the neck with glass, which is pretty bloody. There's also some blood splatter when another character is shot. There is some profanity, although not much and not often, with a few uses of the "S" word and several other colorful words, including some abbreviated text-talk that suggest profanity (like "WTF" and "FML"). There's also a sequence involving underage drinking at a party where teens are visibly drunk. The idea of the party is somewhat glorified in its planning, but the end result certainly isn't.
Missing is a worthy follow-up to 2018's Searching, serving as a standalone sequel to that film. The acting is solid, the story nice and twisty, with a lot of tension to make this thriller effective. And even if the story may be a little convoluted, it makes for a great thriller, utilizing this unique storytelling method quite well.
BLU-RAY™ AND DIGITAL
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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