Written and directed by Andrew J.D. Robinson, follows The Madisons’ desperate search for their missing daughter, in what becomes a mystery of twists, turns, leading them to question: was the truth really better than not knowing what really happened? Starring: Maissa Houri, Mark Templin, Willow Mcgregor, Eleonora Poutilova, Chantel Little, Gabrielle Banville, Olivia Piercey, Katherine Stella Duncan and many more.
When Riley Madison (Little) disappears, her parents are left with nothing but questions and no evidence to suggest she took anything with her, where she may have gone or if anyone else at all was involved. The only thing that they have, is a number of odd details which only cause more pain to obsess over but along with Riley’s best friend Mackenzie (Mcgregor), they refuse to give up the search. However, when strange occurrences begin happening to those closest to Riley, it opens up an exploration of whether in fact this is an isolated incident, or there’s more to the story than they first realised. The film plays on the mystery that of the amount of people who go missing each year, we rarely find out what truly happened to them which leaves a very faint possibility that something more sinister is at work, drawing on nightmares and the supernatural.
The intention of making a mockumentary style horror with mostly footage of talking heads is effective, using the descriptive recollections of those involved to create the horror element rather than visual effects or physical characters is a very challenging choice but it does draw you into their story, having to piece things together gradually. It’s a very slow burn but you can see the attempts to draw out a more old-fashioned type of ghost story or urban legend, while using a very modern style which is an interesting combination. The idea of mysterious happenings repeating around the world and victims trying to explain their experience and either being ignored, assumed to be unstable or lost among the endless content out there, feels very current and appropriate. The writing has a lot of familiar elements to the dialogue and the cadence that its actors take, frequently speaking in low, slow tones, as if they’re almost afraid to explain it for fear of further letting in that dread, which pushes the effectiveness of creating its suspense and tension.
There’s certainly a precedent for making a horror where the monster, villain or antagonist is kept hidden, leading to enhancing the fear and anxiety from simply not knowing what you should be fearful of but this example perhaps pushes that a little too far, leaving too much to the imagination. The film battles throughout with problems of too much or too little, there’s a few too many people used to recount their experiences but they’re also providing too little new information, it becomes quite repetitive as they try to push how similar these events were and becomes unnecessary. In the same way that there isn’t enough of a revelation or climax to the story before it quickly rounds itself out, potentially leaving audiences unsatisfied and needing a more tangible change or answer. There are clues laid throughout the telling of each individual’s story but the resolution feels too easy or simple, having set up that initial suspense it would have been much more rewarding for the ending to pack more of a punch. There’s also an issue of pandering to the audience with those clues, when similar details start to appear instead of assuming the audience has noticed this, it repeats itself several times, which leaves a tone that doubts the intelligence of its viewers.
In the end We Are The Missing, ironically feels as though something is missing, it could have used a stronger more impactful ending but it also had the option to incorporate a more comedic element which might have helped in that regard. It falls upon repetition too frequently in telling its story, time that could have been used to expand the modern urban legend atmosphere to its tale. Ultimately, the initial idea is effective, the style is current and resourceful, the opening creates a great amount of mystery and tension, it had sincere potential to really push the audience into discomfort but it struggles to build upon that foundation and gets a little lost upon its long winding road into the realm of the supernatural.