Star Rating:


Directors: Nicholas D Johnson, Will Merrick

Actors: Storm Reid, Tim Griffin, Ava Zaria Lee, Nia Long

Release Date: Friday 21st April 2023

Genre(s): Drama, Thriller

Running time: 111 minutes

June (Storm Reid) stays at home while her mother Grace (Nia Long) heads off on a romantic getaway in Colombia with her new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung). However, when she tries to get in touch with her and realises that her mother is now missing, June embarks on a desperate search to find her, enlisting the help of a Colombian resident (Joaquim de Almeida), her best friend (Megan Suri), and her mother's lawyer and confidant (Amy Landecker)...

Screenlife movies - that's movies set entirely inside a computer screen ala 'Searching' or 'Profile' - have extended themselves beyond cheap and schlocky horrors, avoiding the fate of found footage movies in the early part of the 2010s. They're tightly plotted, normally run about 90 minutes or so, and frequently rely on strong characterisation and zippy dialogue to keep it moving. 'Profile' was particularly strong with this, with Valene Kane giving a committed and terrifying performance as a journalist infiltrating a terrorist cell through a series of video calls and e-mails.

'Missing', however, misses the point of a screenlife movie - in that there's very little economy at work, and with a runtime stretching into almost two hours, it really overstays its welcome. It also doesn't help that the story frequently relies on cheap rug-pulls and red herrings to keep you connected with the story. Not only that, you can probably guess about half of the twists if you're paying attention. It's not to say that 'Missing' doesn't have some interesting moments or some unique ways of working through a scene. The casting is also pretty effective too. Joaquim de Almeida, for example, eschews his normal smooth-talking screen persona to play a well-meaning but technologically challenged dad. Likewise, Storm Reid and Nia Long play off one another with a real commitment and connection, and the strained relationship between them feels lived in and genuine.

'Missing' rattles through its story with a frantic pace, constantly doubling back on itself to switch out your guesses and your theories mid-stream, before it throws on another twist and turn to keep you on your toes. Unlike 'Searching' or 'Unfriended', however, the concept begins to wear thin by the final act and the cracks in the concept start to really become evident when it gets to the last big reveal in the story. Screenlife movies do offer up a cheap and sometimes effective way of making a movie, and the concept relies on smart writing to make it work. 'Missing' has this for most of the movie, but there's a sense of desperation in trying to fill and pad the whole thing out rather than simply keeping it tight and compact like other efforts.