In general, I’m not a huge horror movie fan. That is, I’m not particularly a fan of gore. Films like Saw, Hostel, and other various what I like to call “torture porn,” are not my cup of tea. I do, however, enjoy a good ghost story or psychological thriller.
I was searching iTunes for a movie to rent when I stumbled upon Megan is Missing. It’s the tale of two young girls who meet a guy online and are later kidnapped as a result. Told in the now-popular found footage style, Megan is Missing is composed entirely of Skype-like video chats, news footage, and a video diary.
Critics hated the film. I admit, the first half was incredibly slow moving and actually rather boring. I nearly turned it off. Megan is not a very likeable character. She’s a promiscuous 14 year old who, well, behaves like an immature, over-sexualized 14 year old. I understand why the character was written this way. She’s set up as the type of character you would assume would make poor decisions. However, I believe it would have been possible to establish Megan’s vulnerability without making the character near porn star-level promiscuous. Luckily, Megan does have some redeeming qualities, particularly, her friendship with Amy.
Amy is a shy, quiet 13 year old who doesn’t fit in with Megan’s “in” crowd. While friendships like this aren’t uncommon among girls this age, what is uncommon is Megan’s willingness to stand up for her less popular friend. It’s a rare quality that, in all honesty, most girls that age aren’t capable of. It’s not for lack of moral character. Social pressures at that age are enormous and fitting in is everything.
The movie begins by telling you straight out the gate that both girls were kidnapped within weeks of each other. Critics saw this as blowing the entire movie. For me, it was simply stating the obvious.
What struck me about this film was the realism. How many news stories have you seen where adolescents are lured by predators online? Some are forced into the sex trade, others are brutalized and murdered. It is a reality everyone is aware of but few parents, schools, etc. are willing to address. Why isn’t Internet safety addressed? Haven’t we reached a point where Internet education is just as important for our children’s health as sex education?
While the first half of the movie had me yearning to hit the fast-forward button a few times, the last 20 minutes were entirely different.
The last 20 minutes of Megan is Missing is disturbing not only for its content, but for the fact that you can’t look away. It isn’t gory at all, but it is very graphic. The final 20 minutes consists of footage supposedly found on Amy’s video camera. It shows her fate from the kidnapper’s perspective.
For those who want to see the movie, I won’t go into details about what we see during those haunting 20 minutes. The graphic nature of this footage is what forces you to think about the message of the film. It leaves a lasting impression about our children’s safety and the darker side of the Internet.
Unfortunately, due to the film’s rating, graphic nature, and unnecessary content, it will never been shown to those who would gain the most from its message…adolescents.