After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online.
THE GOOD STUFF
STORM REID- When it comes to the gimmicky “screenlife thriller” genre (which is what I believe these types of films are called), the quality of the film itself hinges on having a lead performance that is really strong and performed very minimalistically. All while mostly sitting in a chair for the majority of the film. The good films from this genre (profile, searching, for example) have this kind of performance, and this film does as well.
Reid is wonderful here. Though her character really only has one note to play from the second act onward, that is mostly due to the type of genre that she’s in. She is the type of sweet-faced actor with the sunny disposition that films like this should always have.
THE TWIST- Not that I’m going to get too spoilery here or anything like that, but it should be noted that online advertisements for this movie are selling the Shyamalan-level twist (and I mean that in a good way) as something that is a definitive highlight of this movie. And I can’t disagree with that. This movie does a great job of planting red herrings for you to follow, only for this twist to hit you in the face like a really well-played magic trick.
THE BAD STUFF
Gimmick trait number one….. Bad wide angles– “Screenlife thrillers” have a built-in flaw when it comes to portraying dramatic scenes that have nothing to do with being on the internet. Sometimes I wish movies like this would just go to a normal movie format when it comes to two characters talking to each other in a room.
Without that part of things being shown in a normal way, we have to get these scenes where characters step way back in the camera space where we can barely make out their facial expressions. There are like three different key dramatic scenes that would have benefited from stepping away from the FaceCam angle and just went to the normal way. And the most important of these scenes are done in a dark room with kind of a low resolution.
Gimmick trait number 2…… Clumsy endings– In my humble opinion, I think “Screenlife thrillers” should just immediately end after the climax of the movie is over. That way, we don’t have to see the sloppily- put-together epilogues that every one of these movies tend to have, whether they be good or not.
The endings just look sloppy because, more often than not, it requires the audience to read a lot of messages about what happens to the characters rather than seeing any kind of acting. We also get awkward character moments that wouldn’t be on the internet, given the circumstances that the characters just went through. It is done simply because we have to wrap things up without the format of the film EVER being deviated from.
THE UGLY STUFF
Gimmick trait number three… Super hackers– Here is where the suspension of disbelief is tested the most when it comes to this subgenre. Even the most computer literate individuals would tell you doing things like hacking into somebody’s email, or private text chat, or in this case locating someone in another country via GPS and getting the camera signals from the hotel that they stay at…. would at the very least take hours upon hours if not days to do.
The Storm Reid character in this film is just a teenage girl. She’s not some super hacker or kid genius. And yet, she does all of the previous things mentioned within seconds and with the greatest of ease. At some point in this story, it is stated and reiterated that a character who works for a governmental agency cannot get factual information on her mother’s disappearance nearly as fast as she can. Again, your suspension of disbelief will be tested here more than at any other time in the film.
I am a fan of “screenlife thrillers.” But I can’t help but wonder how much longer it will last or how many stories we can tell under these limitations. This gimmick has turned out a lot more bad movies than good ones. Many of those movies go straight to home release and are flat-out dreadful. This is not the case here.
MISSING is in theaters now