In 2018, Searching was released. John Cho played a father desperately looking for his daughter by using information he finds on her computer. The movie was made for less than $900,000 and was a huge success grossing over 75 million dollars. Reviews among critics and audiences alike were very good as well. Searching was one of my favorite films of 2018—an edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller with a great cast that will leave you breathless.
In 2023, we have the new movie Missing. While not a sequel, Missing makes it known early on that it takes place in the same universe as its predecessor. The film is about an 18-year-old girl named June(Storm Reid) who lives alone with her mother Grace(Nia Long). Since June’s father passed, her relationship with her mother hasn’t been the best. When Grace and her boyfriend Kevin decide to go on a trip, June thinks of it as a time to party and live her life. When her mother doesn’t return from her vacation, June has to do whatever she can to find out what exactly happened.
This film, just like Searching is in the genre of Screenlife. For those that do not know, a Screenlife film is one that takes place just about entirely on a computer or a smartphone, or another recording device. Some examples of this are 2014’s Unfriended and 2020’s Host. Those movies take place entirely on a zoom call. Searching and Missing takes it a step further and use just about everything a desktop computer can use.
June, while trying to find clues about her mother uses Youtube videos, different apps, Ring cameras, a smartwatch, and a lot more. The movie is so immersive in the way that it is filmed that it feels like we are the ones doing all the investigating. Every email read, and every website visited leaves you on the edge of your seat. This style of filmmaking truly adds to the suspense of the film.
The mystery and acting are what make the film. Storm Reid is fantastic carrying the film doing all she can to find her mother. She is also dealing with regrets of the past. She comes across as very believable and as someone who won’t give up till she discovers the truth. Joaquim de Almeidac is also great as a man named Javier who helps June along the way. He brings humor and calmness to an overall insanely suspenseful movie.
The mystery of the film is really well thought-out and fast-paced. There is no time to look at your phone or get up to use the bathroom because the movie never lets up. We question every character more than once as new details come up with every click of the mouse. Once we get to our final reveal, although a bit contrived, is still shocking and the movie earns its ending. Every little thing in the movie means something. The script and direction are so tight and impressive in the way everything blends together. The movie is truly ingenious in the way it uses different means of the internet to take us along the journey.
If I have to complain about something, I guess I will say that sometimes bigger isn’t always better. Missing is a great thriller but it just might have one too many twists and turns. What made Searching so amazing was how grounded it was. We have a father who is not too tech-savvy at all trying to find his daughter. He tries to read her messages, he talks to her friends, and he does things that normal people would try to do to find a loved one.
June, in this movie, has to be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the internet on the planet. It is understandable that because she is a teenager, she would be able to handle technology more than a middle-aged father but sometimes it almost seems like a little too much.
Also after seeing the film and thinking about certain things that happened, some scenarios definitely seem a little over the top and a tad bit unbelievable. You could tell more money was spent on certain ideas and I don’t feel the movie needed to go bigger. This movie has a budget of 7 million dollars which is a lot more than what Searching had and it shows. A movie like this should be more grounded. The climax is good but it feels a little more polished and Hollywood-like than the rest of the film.
Even with these few complaints, the script and overall film are so good it doesn’t really hurt the film. The movie overall is still a tense-as-hell thriller and a marvel when it comes to technology. If they made ten more of these types of films, I would gladly see them all. Searching was a fresh, strong, near-perfect mystery film. Missing, I can gladly say, comes pretty damn close.
Missing is now playing in theatres.