Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Netflix Instant : Hit Play Or Stay Away? Megan Is Missing

Spewed forth some brief thoughts about this one last night on Facebook but being that I still can't seem to get the movie to leave my head alone, I found myself itching to talk a bit more about it. So let's do just that and find out if this Netflix Instant title deserves your time!

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Employing a mix of storytelling techniques (including webcam footage, video chats and dramatized news reports), this chillingly realistic thriller charts the disappearance of two teens who vanish three weeks apart under mysterious circumstances.

Asking whether or not Megan Is Missing is worth your time is a bit of a loaded question, because it's really not as simple to answer as the same question is for most other movies. When it comes to this one, it's really not even a matter of whether the movie is any good or not, it's more about the massively damaging impact it leaves in its wake and the message that lies underneath its less than impressive attempt at being what I could consider a great film. The fact of the matter is that Megan Is Missing is a pretty sloppy and cheesy film, a found footage flick that teeters on the brink of stupidity almost to the point that it's hard to take it very seriously for very long. The acting is oftentimes pretty poor and the way the whole thing is presented to us is quite messy, but nevertheless by the end of the film I found myself absolutely horrified and disturbed by what I had just seen, to the point that I found it hard to sleep afterwards. Movies don't often have that effect on me so I kinda gotta give serious props to this one for doing so.

What's so scary about the movie is that this kind of stuff happens in the real world all the time, with several of those real life stories in fact serving as the inspiration for the film. This isn't a story about some slasher in the woods or a melted dude invading nightmares, this is about a sick predator targeting vulnerable young girls on the internet, luring them in with promises of love and companionship. In this day and age, where teens are growing up faster than ever, doing drugs, having sex and spending late nights on the internet, online predators are an all too real problem and young girls are an all too easy prey for them. Megan Is Missing uncomfortably taps into that idea, showing us what can and many times has resulted from that combination of kids growing up too fast and having too much freedom on the internet.

Just as being a kid isn't what it used to be, the world isn't what it used to be either, and Megan Is Missing paints a very unnerving picture of the current state of things, bringing horrifying news stories to life and highlighting the dangers of being a modern day American teenager. We hear about these stories all the time on the news but it's only when we see them play out that we truly feel the gravity of the horror, a horror that a pretty newscaster or a catchy newspaper headline could never convey. In that sense, Megan Is Missing is an important film for anyone who can handle it, one that will hopefully serve to scare off teens from messing around with strangers on the internet. This is one of those movies that's truly more than just a movie, which is a pretty damn powerful thing.

All that said, I again must reiterate that as a film, Megan Is Missing is not so great. Though the final 20 minutes (which show us exactly what happened to the two girls) are raw, realistic & utterly disturbing, a lot of the stuff that comes before it is totally poorly acted and goofy, which hurts the overall impact of the experience a great deal. I shudder to think how much more effective and more horrifying the movie would have been if those two girls and their situation felt a bit more real, but then again I'm not sure I could've handled it being much more horrifying. Again though, it's less about the movie and the characters that inhabit it than it is about the horror of such a situation, as your mind pretty much swaps out the victims with your own loved ones and the movie properly gets under your skin regardless of how it's pulled off throughout. That's really the strength of writer/director Michael Goi's effort, when all is said and done.

So, do I recommend you hit the play button on this found footage horror flick by way of Larry Clark? Well, yes and no. We live in a horrific world where some pretty awful shit happens on a daily basis and if you want to be exposed to the most horrific of the horrific, and can look past some flaws on the filmmaking front, then give it a watch. If, on the other hand, you want to shelter yourself from that kind of disturbing material, stay far far away. A reader by the name of Kristi Nommensen Dorson commented on my Facebook post about the movie last night and summed up my feelings pretty well ...

"I simultaneously want to make my children watch it before they are allowed to use the internet, and at the same time never expose them to anything like this ever in their lives."

That about says it all.

2 comments:

LJRich said...

I have a far different view of this movie than most people who've seen it. I just watched it a couple of days ago and still cant manage to write a review of it.

This movie wasn't filmed or written with any degree of seriousness at all, so therefore I can't really take it with the degree of seriousness than most are giving it. It's a film that was made to cash in on the found footage craze, couple with the new trend toward torture porn/shock cinema, and that's it. It seems like it wasn't until after the fact that they decided to market this as a "beware" type of message film, hence the blurb from Marc Klaas on the box.

There is no doubt that stuff like this can, and probably does happen on a daily basis around the world, however, they marketed this all wrong. No one is going to see it. Except found footage, torture porn, or shock cinema fans. Everyone else that this SHOULD probably be seen by will go on about their sheepish little lives, blissfully unaware that this film was even made. And most of those people would never grasp the set of nuts needed to actually sit down and watch a film like this, anyway.

So. The film is a waste of time in almost every sense. Unless people are in the market for the types of horror I previously listed.

I'm a parent of teenagers, and even I couldn't take this movie seriously at all given how it was made, who it was marketed to, and how it came out. I really think people are making it more than it really is.

ZombieBodhi said...

Oh man, I very rarely get disturbed by horror films these days but this movie despite it's annoyance in the beginning, definitely scarred my brain during those last 20 minutes. It makes me not want to every have a daughter and if I do, she's never going on the Internet.