Article

In Missing (2023), the Camera Sees Everything

Missing (2023), the standalone sequel to Searching (2018), takes the current society's roadblocks for thrillers (connectivity, technology, high-tech security) and uses them as the main plot device to hammer home the lack of privacy in our world: FaceTime screens idle on the laptop, smart watches, Ring doorbells and CCTV cameras to live feeds of popular tourist spots.

Fodderreviews

Have you ever watched an old-timey thriller that took your breath away? 

Have you then felt sad and wondered how difficult it is to replicate the same story in today’s world where everything is online?

No? Is it just me? Are you all normal? *stares in disbelief*

After the movie, on the way home, my friend and I saw a guy trying to open a shop with three women surrounding him, clearly struggling. We joked that they were trying to steal. I said, “you just need to be confident, and no one will question you breaking into a store.”

My friend said, “Yes, but now cameras and all these tracking apps are everywhere.” This is what solidified my stance. Using the all-seeing eye to be the storyteller is ingenious when working around it has become such a hassle in today’s thrillers.

Missing (2023), the standalone sequel to Searching (2018), takes the current society's roadblocks for thrillers (connectivity, technology, high-tech security) and uses them as the main plot device to hammer home the lack of privacy in our world: FaceTime screens idle on the laptop, smart watches, Ring doorbells and CCTV cameras to live feeds of popular tourist spots. 

I marvelled over the execution of the story more than the story, so let’s talk about that first.

The story is about 18-year-old June (Storm Reid) trying to discover what happened to her mother while she was on vacation with her boyfriend in Columbia. The challenges that Missing has to overcome are teen naivety and international red tape.

The movie begins with June being the average teen, dismissive of her mother’s worries and affections and planning a party as soon as she leaves. We see her partying and then rushing to pick up her mother. Her mother never shows. 

Using the screen solely to show what’s happening, the movie is built at a fast pace for audiences with a short attention span, dropping twists at just the right time to keep things constantly interesting. June’s digital sleuthing is an excellent nod to the current true crime obsession making everyone a detective and this generation’s upbringing with the latest technology at their fingertips. 

It also has a lot of relatable moments of daily frustrations with technology that brought a laugh out of the audience in the theatre—saving the last name of the person she talks to as “church guy”. I know I definitely have people saved by their profession in my phone as well! I blame my goldfish memory for it; I need an identifier.

It also uses Gen-Z’s disposition toward life and social media as a comic device. For instance, June standing with a “welcome back from prison” placard while waiting for her mom with her phone camera recording her (the perfect screen view for us).

Veena (Megan Suri), June’s best friend, is the perfect example of this. She is the definition of an unbothered teen who can’t grasp the seriousness of the situation yet will do the most to help you even if she doesn’t fully understand it.

I mostly focused on the small things, like how the silence was always so loud after Javier’s (June’s support character in Columbia) call and how the screen was being used. The first few twists were predictable, and the ending left me wanting more but at that point, I didn’t care enough for the characters anyway. 

This brings us to the story.

When it comes to kidnappings and murders, all that’s shown in movies are emotionally charged moments of rage, hopelessness, and desperation. Missing shows you the mundane actions and interactions amidst all the chaos and tragedy. The development is fast-paced, but the movie pauses to show you little nothings and uses it to transition into the next segment.

Selecting the bot question images, thumbs up to the “love you”, Google searches and message history are great to establish relatability and comedic relief. Still, sometimes it is at the expense of the story.

We go too quickly into the mystery, leaving no time to form a bond with the characters. You almost don’t care what is happening to the missing mother. The quirky cinematography and ease of access to apps and personal accounts on the screen overpower all the emotion you could feel.

The culprit is introduced at the very end and has a few minutes of screen presence before his sinister side emerges. Since there’s no back story explained, the audience has no time to understand the character; you just stop caring about the motives or why, who, where, and what and just let it pass.

The resolution is too rooted in reality, not taking the time to establish emotional roots to effectively criticise domestic abuse leads to a rather anticlimactic ending. It doesn’t leave the audience feeling wowed. You don’t get a sense of an end to a crazy ride. It still shows you the aftermath for a domestic abuse survivor (I can’t discuss more without giving away spoilers, bummer), but the characters lack substance.

The characters and the issue that gives rise to the mystery—everything seemed like an afterthought to the direction and execution of the movie. The characters are formulaic—a desolate teen having to solve a mystery, a friend you are made to doubt but turns out to be reliable, a person you are made to think you should care about but turns out bad, the new guy is not to be trusted, the underdog is always going to help—and it is done without any conviction.

I liked Searching more than Missing. It was slower and actually spent time building relationships. With Missing, you take a wild ride into today’s tech-savvy world in a simple whodunnit–don’t expect a rich cast of characters though. You will enjoy it if you don’t look too deep into the relationships portrayed. I recommend the movie for the execution; that was brilliant and I am still marvelling over the work that must have gone into making it come to life. 
 

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024

EDITION ONE 2024 'INDIE SLEAZE' AVAILABLE NOW!

It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

Read online