As smart phones have become a predominant part of our lives, Hollywood has attempted to make screen time cinematic. A variation of the found footage style of the late 90s, films like 2014’s Unfriended and 2018’s Searching tell a story through laptop and phone screens.
The trend continues with Missing, a standalone sequel to Searching, this time with the child looking for a parent. Storm Reid (A Wrinkle In Time), plays June, a chronically online teenager who looks forward to a few days of freedom as her mother (Nia Long) heads off on holiday to Colombia with her new boyfriend.
When she doesn’t arrive on her return flight, June begins a desperate search, using all her online knowledge to uncover the dark truth behind her mother’s new love.
While the chase is tense, the real chills can be felt in how feasible the digital element of the film seems. Hacking email accounts, checking dating profiles, and instantly facetiming the other side of the world shows how much of our lives is traceable online. Little details, like June hiring Colombian gig worker Javi (Joaquim de Almeida) to do some snooping, add to the sense that this is all possible.
The format means there’s no room to hide, and Reid is talented enough to excel in a role that requires her face to be on screen for the best part of 90 minutes; to hold your own against veterans like Long and Almeida is no mean feat.
Missing treads a lot of the same ground as its predecessor, meaning it can’t rely on the novelty of the presentation. The result is a cautionary tale which couldn’t be more relevant.