If it hasn’t been made clear by projects like Bodies Bodies Bodies, Euphoria, and even Eighth Grade, then Missing is here to drive the point home: kids these days love to use the Internet. In this new thriller, a SoCal teenager (Storm Reid) is forced to turn to the ’net when her mom (Nia Long) takes off on a trip to Colombia with her boyfriend and never comes back.
Bored, broke, and understandably worried, young June starts scouring the web for clues, using what she knows to break into her mom’s phone, investigate the fishy boyfriend’s random online accounts, and even hire a cheap (but sympathetic!), Colombian Taskrabbit to investigate her mom’s whereabouts. As viewers, we know all this because, like Unfriended and Searching before it, Missing is stylized to look like we’re seeing everything from the other side of June’s laptop screen.
That means you get to watch as Google searches and video calls play out in real time, and when June has to step away from her laptop to actually get in on the action, you’re asked to peer through phone cameras, surveillance footage, and even a conveniently-discovered smartwatch. It can feel a hair gimmicky at times, especially if you’re the kind of person who just wants June to actually call the FBI and stop running her own investigation on Twitter, but it’s fun enough to watch. As with any good thriller, there are copious twists and turns along the way as bits of evidence trickle in, and when the big, not-so-shocking reveal does come near the end of the film, it brings along an appropriate amount of spine-tingling dread.
Overall, Missing is just about as fun as a couple of hours flicking through Instagram or knocking out levels in Candy Crush. Unfortunately, it’s also just about as ephemeral, leaving little impression beyond mild enjoyment. PG-13, 111 min.