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MISSING  l  Sony Pictures Canada  |  January 20, 2023

Starring: Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung, Daniel Henney, Nia Long

Directed By: Nick Johnson, Will Merrick

When her mother (Nia Long) disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend, June’s (Storm Reid) search for answers is hindered by international red tape. Stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find her before it’s too late. But as she digs deeper, her digital sleuthing raises more questions than answers...and when June unravels secrets about her mom, she discovers that she never really knew her at all.

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REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus

Missing utilizes its social media and webcam based footage to tell a thrilling story full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final reveal, all held together by a truly great performance by Storm Reid.

 

Since the mid 2010s, there has been a craze with social media and webcam footage based films, whether it be in the horror genre with films like Unfriended or Host, or more traditional thrillers like Profile and Searching. The best use of the format so far was displayed in Searching, which was a tense and emotional thriller, and the team behind the hit film has finally unveiled their standalone sequel set within the same world. While I didn’t think it was possible, Missing not only has the same slick execution of Searching, but with a wilder and more engaging mystery and a better use of the format, allows it to outshine Searching and deliver the best film to date to utilize this style of storytelling.

 

As her mother and new boyfriend head away for a week-long getaway to Columbia, eighteen year old June has the house to herself during summer break and parties it up with her friends. But when her mother does not return home from her trip and has disappeared, June must search for her mother in Columbia from her home in Los Angeles, learning shocking secrets along the way that changes everything she thought she knew. But with time running out and the authorities restricted to what they can legally do, June takes matters into her own hands to find out what happened to her mother before it is too late.


Will Merrick and Nicholas D. Johnston, who edited Searching, make their directorial debut with Missing and also wrote the film. Their experience telling a story using the webcam and social media medium is their biggest asset, allowing there to be no moment where the audience is disengaged by the manner in which the story is being told. Every scene has a great mix of webcam footage and instant messaging or web surfing to ensure that the focus on technology is emphasized, while never sacrificing June as a character and her fight to find her mother. It’s a stronger balance than other films using this format, allowing Storm Reid to be consistently visible, while other films tended to focus too long on watching instant messages being sent back and forth and lost focus on the characters.

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Speaking of Storm Reid, she is nothing less than excellent in the lead role. As June, Reid captures the rebellious teenager that we are initially introduced to. But once June discovers her mother is missing, Reid finds an emotional depth to June that cuts deep, even if we only see her through webcam footage. There is a quiet desperation that Reid captures in June’s determined search for her mother, never once going for the over dramatic breakdown that would be easy to do in such a role. Instead, Reid remains cool despite the immense pressure her character faces as she stands to lose her only remaining family member, ensuring that the audience feels each emotional blow with each development in her mother’s disappearance. The supporting cast is all great, ranging from Nia Long’s warm and caring Grace, Joaquim de Almeida’s ever entertaining Javi who takes June under his wing as he helps her on the ground in Columbia, to the collected and re-assuring Daniel Henney as Agent Park, but this is Reid’s film from start to finish. 

 

The story itself is a mystery that will keep you guessing, never for once taking the obvious way out. While it feels like the trailer gave away the majority of the story, they don’t even cover the entire first half of the film. There are so many shocking twists packed into the second half of the film, that you will have no clue where the story is going or when it is going to end. Yes, you will pick up on a fact or character that seems out of place, as they are dropped throughout the film to be followed up on later, but guessing how they tie into Grace’s disappearance is something you won’t be able to guess easily. So when the full picture is revealed that fuels the nail biting conclusion to the film, you will be on the edge of your seat in fear hoping that June would find her mother safe and alive. 


Whether it be the excellent use of social media and webcam footage to bring the story to life, a truly shocking mystery that hooks you from the beginning and does not give you a moment to catch your breath until it’s shocking conclusion, or a truly great lead performance by Storm Reid, Missing is an excellent thriller that is guaranteed to have your heart racing for its entire runtime.

RATING 4 out of 5

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