Director: Michael Goi
Cast: Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Dean Waite
Told “found footage” style through a series of webcam conversations and footage from a digital camcorder, the lives of Megan and Amy, two teenage girls who are best friends, are documented in the days leading up to both of their disappearances. When Amy’s camcorder is discovered in a park trash can, the viewer witnesses their fates.
As equally thought provoking as it is heart-wrenching and brutal, Megan is Missing, should immediately become required viewing for every parent of every teenager who spends even the most modest amount of time on social networking sites such as Facebook; the film is supposedly based on true events. It begins innocently enough with a front row peek into the lives of the two teenage girls. Through their playful videotaping and webcam conversations, it becomes obvious that these are two very typical teenagers. Megan is the more popular, boy crazy girl, while Amy is more socially awkward and innocent. During a long—possibly a tad too long—sequence showing the two girls at a party, their differences are highlighted extensively, as Amy is ignored and cannot handle her alcohol in the least while Megan gets wasted and has sex with a boy at the party. Thought the acting is frustrating at times, the situations that play out are, whether we want to admit it or not, very typical of what many teenagers these days partake in. Furthermore, during the party scene the strength of the relationship between the two girls is exposed; we question why these two very different girls would be friends and after the party it seems Amy considers this very question. However, after a revealing conversation with Megan, the foundation of their friendship is brought to light, hence making Amy’s concern and actions when Megan disappears later in the film understandable. Again, the main distraction during these scenes is the uneven acting which lessens the believability of the events. However, the acting drastically improves as the film marches towards its main intent. When Megan begins a webcam chat with Josh, supposedly a teenage boy who attends a different local school who enjoys surfing and skateboarding, (conveniently his webcam is “broken” so she can’t see him), actress Rachel Quinn projects the flirtatiousness and excitement of a teenage girl flawlessly. It is during these scenes that the viewer finally understands and relates to her character. This makes her careless decision and naivety painful to watch because the outcome is obvious. When Megan vanishes after going to meet Josh for the first time, we see faux news broadcasts telling of her disappearance followed by surveillance video of her abduction. Amy senses Josh may know something and messages him online. After taking an accusing tone, Josh’s behavior toward Amy becomes dark and sinister as he mocks and threatens her. Days later, while filming an entry for her video diary, she disappears. The screen then goes black and a message appears informing us that the last 22 minutes is the actual footage from Amy’s retrieved video camera, unedited and unaltered. What is perhaps equally disturbing is are two photographs that we are told was posted on a fetish message board that illustrates Megan’s fate. These images will remain etched in the viewers mind for quite some time.
It has to be said that the last 22 minutes of Megan is Missing is one the most harrowing, saddening, and cruel sequences ever filmed. Anyone who can watch this footage and not feel disgusted, sickened, and sorrowful deserves serious questioning. This is certainly a testament to how well shot and well-acted this sequence is. While some can argue that it is too brutal and exploitative, in fact, it is reality. Stuff like this happens and anyone needing reminding of this simply needs to look up statistics on how many sexual predators use social networking sites to spark relationships with children (To Catch A Predator, anyone?). Certainly brutal and extreme, this film serves as a message and a reminder to parents and teenagers to be cautious with online activities. If the last minutes of this film were more tame, the impact would not be as great because, as is, this is a film that WILL stick with the viewer long after it is over and cause parents to immediately go and embrace their children. And while it has its faults, the fact that it possesses such a powerful, important and relevant message supersedes a few episodes of bad acting and scriptwriting. It’s a powerful film, ruthless in its simplicity and is one of the most imperative films of the last decade. It accomplishes its purpose powerfully without being preachy or far-fetched. A must see not necessarily because is exemplifies great filmmaking and acting (its low budget is painfully obvious at times), but because of its potential to cause parents and teens to be far more guarded online than they have ever been before.
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