For June, the prospect of being home alone, having friends over and hosting parties is what softens the blow when her mother sets off on a romantic trip to Colombia with her new boyfriend. However, when the pair do not return when June goes to pick them up from the airport and she is unable to get a hold of either of them, the teenage girl is understandably distraught. The US embassy and the FBI are both too concerned with jurisdiction, so she hires a Colombian civilian via a local freelance marketplace to investigate.
Missing is the latest in what can be seen as anthology series of so-called “screenlife” thrillers, pioneered by Timur Bekmambetov, who also acted as an executive producer here. The action is confined to a computer screen: the desktop, browsers, the device’s built-in camera. While this concept, first popularised with the 2014 horror Unfriended, still holds an air of novelty, it needs to be continually challenged by the plot so as to not dwindle into a perfunctory gimmick. Thankfully, this is where Missing exceeds its predecessor, Searching, whose incorporated time lapses and news footage occasionally felt strained and at odds with the given benchmark.
Written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, Missing incorporates its reasons for those auxiliary reaction shots via June’s open FaceTime app. In another clever feat, the viewer is introduced to her proclivity for true crime shows, which helpfully establishes her swift approach to “investigoogling.” Still, there are some questionable logical fallacies left standing, such as the implication that users who turn off location services automatically do so for shady reasons.
While the vertigo-inducing number of twists and turns ensure there’s not a single minute of boredom, they overshadow some of the more socio-critical elements, stretch credibility and restrict lead actress Storm Reid in her scope of action.
Missing is released in select cinemas on 21st April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Missing here: