Directed by Andrew J.D. Robinson [Other horror films: The Monster Pool (2015, segment ‘One Giant Lepus’)]
In the vein of such films like The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Lake Mungo, and Hell House LLC, We Are the Missing is a fake documentary focusing on a young woman who went missing, and the impact it has on her community. Well, at first, anyway – the scope is pulled back a bit around 40 minutes in, but suffice it to say that this movie is well-made, though may not entirely be that memorable.
The documentary feel was pretty authentic throughout. At times, it felt like I was watching a lower-budget version of Searching (2018), and the acting here was generally pretty decent, and probably more stable than what we got from The Poughkeepsie Tapes. Some portions were maybe a bit problematic (an almost four-minute montage of police calls about an hour into the movie, for example), but overall, this felt as authentic as expected.
There are two issues that really sort of irked me, I have to admit. This first one may be a bit nitpicky, but then again, no one ever accused me of not picking apart movies, so there you go.
Firstly, the time-frame is somewhat confusing, at least to me. This is evidenced by a goof near the ending of the film. I won’t belabor the point, as I did mention this to Andrew Robinson, the director, who did admit that it was a mistake. Even so, it was something I noticed, and something I thought I should point out. At this juncture, I also want to make clear that I watched this movie upon request, which I am always happy to do should anyone out there be interested.
To move away from my shameless self-promotion, though there’s another thing that stood out – during the montage of police calls, multiple people state that “no one believes them” about their experiences with what seem to be ghosts. If this thing is going on all over the city, though, even a large city (and another individual even said that people quit coming to work or leaving their houses because of it), I find it hard to take in that “no one” believed so many of these people.
Even if it’s a big city, if a 5% chunk of people are reporting these experiences (and it does indeed seem wide-spread), and if people are actively staying home and avoiding work, then I would think only a minority of individuals would still remain skeptical. It ties into someone said at the end, about how this tragedy pulled people together – as far as I could tell, most people suffered through this alone.
If I was in a city which was going through mass disappearances and unexplained experiences, I would be around as many people every day and night as possible as opposed to locking myself up alone in my house. I would throw a block party (which the local authorities would be inclined to approve, as safety would likely been seen as more likely in large numbers). What I wouldn’t do is stay in my small apartment alone and make videos. I’d want to be with people, and if this city is a bigger city (and it certainly looks it), that shouldn’t at all be a problem to organize.
Also, the lack of national media presence, at least referenced national media presence, seemed odd. If half a hundred people disappeared over such a short time-span, then I’d expect the area to be crawling with media outlets of all types, but that doesn’t really seem evidenced in what we see.
Here’s the main question, though – do any of these issues really harm the movie? Mostly, not so much. Sure, I do think the way these people react to this incident (bolting themselves inside as opposed to saying in large groups) is unwise, but large groups of people do unwise things all the time (just look at presidential elections in the USA). None of this takes away from both the subtly disturbing atmosphere and the authentic feel of the film, which I think are some of We Are the Missing’s highlights.
I can’t say that this movie will have a high amount of rewatchability (though some, for sure, may exist), which is a bit of an issue. Look at Hell House, LLC – that movie, you could watch as many as three times and notice new things each time. This film has a different focus, of course, and one more worldly (missing people as opposed to Halloween haunted houses), but even so, if there’s not much bringing people back for a second watch, it’s hard to call it a great movie.
This is a good movie, though. Obviously we’re not left with an actual answer here, which is to only be expected, and it leaves the viewer with the potential thought that this may easily happen again in a new city at a new time. The atmosphere and authenticity work well to this end.
Prior to giving this my final rating, I did want to give some props to my two favorite performances, being Mark Templin (Riley’s father) and Willow Mcgregor (Mackenzie). Good performances in a movie like this are of paramount import, so I’m glad that these two especially were here.
I don’t think anyone would honestly claim that We Are the Missing is breaking any new boundaries, but it is a competently made film in this style, and while overall I found the film around average, I do think that there’s a lot of potential here. Give it a watch (it’s free on YouTube, so why not?) and see how it goes, though, because the authenticity here alone is worth the watch.