Missing 2023 is riveting story told through the world of digital media
What if someone directed a movie through the lens of digital or social media? I vividly remember randomly mulling this over, about seven years ago, as I was bored sitting on the couch. Two years later, this abstract thought became reality with the release of Searching in 2018.
Now, with online technology significantly updated since 2018, a standalone sequel was much needed. This year, it finally came in the form of Missing 2023.
Most screenlife movies I have seen, with the exception of Searching, have been of the horror genre. Thus, it is pleasing to see Missing, mostly a thriller/mystery film, breaking out of this shell.
Nicholas D. Johnson and William Merrick, who edited Searching, make their major-film directing debut with the release of this movie. Along with an abundance of suspense and foreshadowing background music, which thriller/mystery film genres certainly require, the directors do a sterling job encapsulating the prominence of digital tools in contemporary times.
The significance of social media in today’s day and age is masterfully presented in the first half of the movie. In one scene, June (the lead actor played by Storm Reid) throws a party with her teenage friends after her mom, Grace (Nia Long) goes on a vacation with her boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung). This rager is entirely captured on Instagram stories and reels, Snapchat, and other social networking websites popular among the youngsters.
I spend an extremely unhealthy amount of time on social media, which I really shouldn’t be doing. Hence, seeing the flash of posts about the party hosted by June really brought a smile to my face and a bit of a chuckle in the cinema.
One scene after the other, directors Johnson and Merrick kept the audience in suspense and provided stark revelations. For the sake of not spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet, I’ll be as vague as possible while elaborating on my observation.
Apart from showcasing the salience of digital tools, as demonstrated by the tech-savvy June, and, to a certain extent, displaying the daft side of social networking websites, this movie touches on a serious and prevalent social topic: domestic violence.
According to a 2021 report published by Statistics Canada, women and girls represent 69 per cent of domestic violence victims in Canada, and they are two times more likely than boys and men to be victims of this kind of cruelty. As for the U.S., the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that one in four women experience some form of partner violence.
In the case of Canada’s statistics, the data synthesized indicates an increase in domestic violence for a fifth straight year. Clearly the higher ups in the government could do better to tackle this social issue.
Although the story of Missing is entirely fictitious, the portrayal of household violence towards women and girls is heartbreaking and inventive at the same time. As the quantitative data above suggests, these undesirable conditions are pervasive in our society. Hence, it is great to see the creators of this movie acknowledge and incorporate this social issue.
As much as I admire the brilliance of the creators and actors of this movie, the fast pace of some scenes can arguably be classified as “disorienting.”
The title Missing alludes to the main plot of the movie, which is that June’s mom, Grace, goes missing in Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin. All of this information is in the trailer, so I’m positive that I’m not spoiling the movie for anyone.
June uses complicated digital tools such as Google’s location services to track the footsteps of her missing mother. Although the scenes related to June’s investigation showcase her technological prowess, for some people the fast pace of her examination can be hard to follow.
Nevertheless, considering that this is the first major movie directed by Johnson and Merrick, this small criticism can be overlooked. The plot of the movie (integrating social media with domestic violence) is riveting indeed, so it nullifies this negative aspect of the movie. Mystery should be the main theme of this kind of movie, and the creators have ticked that box for sure.
IMDb gave Missing 2023 a B rating (7.3/10). However, considering the real-life social issues that it touches on, along with the compelling story, I believe this movie deserves at least an A- (8.0/10).