Another day, another found footage film! Although Michael Goi’s Megan Is Missing does try to do something a little different that would get a great deal of praise later on in films like Searching. Combining mobile phone and webcam footage with the video camera main course gives the air of a more constructed film, but this one is done in such a way that it doesn’t feel overly messed around with/fabricated. Instead there is a flow to this film that helps it tell its story.
Megan is a lively, vivacious 14 year old and is best friends with Amy who is almost the exact opposite being shy and inward looking. But nevertheless, they are inseparable and their friendship is strong. Megan tries to include Amy whenever she can in the wilder events that high schoolers get up to, with varying degrees of success. And all of this is captured on camera. The good and the bad.
When an internet meet-up is arranged by Megan, she never returns and this sets Amy on the mission to find out what went on and where her best friend has gotten to. The inclusion of local TV footage fits into the film nicely and doesn’t feel awkward at all. The story unfolds quite well, although it does take an overly long time to get to the actual act of Megan disappearing, with not much happening until right before the event.
From there on, it is shorter and sharper as we get the actual found footage part of the film. There are some disturbing scenes of bondage, torture and rape which are effectively done and leave an impact. However, much like The Poughkeepsie Tapes the ending feels unresolved and gives a different feel to the whole film when looking back in retrospect.
The two main roles of Megan and Amy are played really well throughout. There are other bit-part roles and they all play their part without ever infringing on the friendship of the central two. There are some very candid moments as Megan describes some of the awful things that have happened to her during her life that she isn’t at fault for. Her search for meaning and something real ultimately lead her to her end.
Megan Is Missing does provide a good deal of reflection on the perils of the Internet and grooming problems, especially in this day and age where connected devices are pretty much prevalent. There are some shocking revelations that are presented in a very casual and almost offhand way, which maybe should have been handled a bit better and the main message of the film seems to put all the onus on the girls for their behaviour (Megan’s promiscuity and Amy being a friend of Megan) rather than the horrendous acts of the perpetrator/s. But, despite the innovation in style, a few disturbing moments and the decent portrayals of the main characters, it doesn’t quite get under your skin enough to allow for the meandering beginning.