Review 79: Megan is Missing (.5/5)

Megan is Missing

Directed by Michael Goi

Starring Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Dean Waite

Released on May 1, 2011

Running time: 1h 29m

Not Rated (Suggested rating: R for graphic sexual dialogue and content, frequent use of strong language, illegal drug use, and some violence – all involving teens. Whether or not the content is disturbing is entirely up to the viewer) F-bombs per minute: 0.57

Genre: Horror, Exploitation, Drama, Teen

Beewear de eeeavol inturwebz!

It turns out that the fanbases of both Cyberbully and Megan is Missing are similar – they both relentlessly attack those who dislike either film.

I’ve also heard other comments from Megan is Missing’s fanbase: “If you don’t like this movie, then that means you’re sick / missing the point! Those of you that complain about the bad acting are forgetting that the movie is about fourteen-year-old girls, not adults! It’s not about the movie, it’s about the message!”

I absolutely do not support cyberbullies or internet stalkers or people who kidnap, torture, rape, and murder. I absolutely acknowledge that many people are victims of such people. And I fully and completely respect this movie’s message. But I do not support shoddily made movies that poorly relay a worthwhile message. A movie’s message, no matter how important, does NOT protect it from any and all criticism.

There was one user on IMDb who gave this movie three out of ten stars. This user happened to be a licensed therapist. But another user on IMDb whined about this same therapist, saying that if said therapist doesn’t like Megan is Missing, then s/he should be stripped of his/her license. To that whiny baby on IMDb who can’t handle well-deserved criticism of a particular movie: How dare you say that. I am a Mormon, and going by your logic, me not liking this movie means that I should be excommunicated from the Church. People are allowed to have their own opinions. If you don’t like mine, then suck it up, buttercup.

Megan is Missing was directed by Michael Goi, who is none other than the former President of the American Society of Cinematographers. So, I was expecting something competently shot. But even though Dr. Goi (the title is supposed to be a joke) has been nominated for four Emmys as of the publishing of this review, we, unfortunately, do not get such a luxury.

Our film begins with, in a ridiculously basic font, “the following film is based on actual events”.

JIM GAFFIGAN: Uh, I’m not a calculus teacher, but…I think everyone’s lying.

We get a few seconds of the titular Megan (Quinn) and her friend Amy (Perkins) annoyingly interacting before two messages of the same basic font pop up. Megan disappeared on January 14, 2007, and Amy disappeared three weeks later. Wait, then why isn’t the movie called Megan and Amy are Missing? We then get a very vague description of how all of this movie’s footage was compiled. It was done using “cell phone transmissions”, “computer files”, “home videos”, and “public news reports”. Oh, so Megan is Missing is a “found-footage” movie? *slams head against wall* I’m still hurting from The Gallows and Paranormal Inactivity. The Gallows was actually in my top thirteen Worst Movies until I saw The Forest and Backgammon. Anyway, we hold on the second bit of text for just a little too long before we cut to the extremely tacky title sequence that holds for about thirty seconds too long (obvious exaggeration).

We abruptly cut to Amy and Megan at school. Megan is inexplicably recording herself as she’s putting on makeup. Why is she recording herself? Do cell phones in 2007 even have cameras on the front? Do they really have that quality of cameras? I’m pretty sure they had flip phones, not smartphones. Wouldn’t the footage here be in the rectangular shape of the 4:3 cell phone screen? Did they really record themselves? With all the recorded footage in this, wouldn’t these phones have several terabytes of storage? Megan and Amy have an annoying, poorly acted exchange before shutting off the recording by Megan putting her hand over the lens.

AMY: You’re a ho. H-O, ho.

MEGAN: Jealousy talking; blah blah blah.

*slams head against wall*

Why, whenever there’s a Facetime call, does everyone begin the call by taking their hand off of the lens and end it by putting it back on? It’s almost as if they’re cupping the lens of a professional camera that the cameraman is holding so the editor knows how and where to edit each shot. Did Facetime even exist in 2007?

So, I should probably tell you about the characters. Megan is really popular and she has a cruddy home life with her single mother. She really hates school and really likes drugs, partying, and indiscriminate sex, even though she’s only fourteen years old. Somehow, Megan is a straight-A student. Amy, on the other hand, is a social outcast, and is a nice, pure, sweet little girl who loves her parents and does her homework and brushes her teeth and eats her vegetables and cleans her room and sleeps with a teddy bear and goes to church and is really naïve for only being almost fourteen. But she hangs out with Megan. U see the cotrast? If w hav 2 grls who r on oposit end of the morl spektrum, then theyl atomaticly hav cemsitry! Because that’s toooootally how story writing works. Wait, Amy is only thirteen; how is she in high school? Did she skip a grade?

That night, Megan video chats with her friend Angie. Angie mentions the “f—kin’ awesome” drugs that some guy named Tercel brought to school that day, and Megan responds with annoyance that she didn’t get any, and says

MEGAN: Last time I blow him.

Way to accurately represent the youth of 2007, Dr. Goi! Watch out, because not only are your kids idiots, but the Internet! OH NO! Also, all communication between anyone in this movie is always done through video chat. Why? Why is there no texting or good old-fashioned phone calls? Who on earth uses video chat for all of their conversations? Without multitasking, no less? And since this movie is based on actual events, how the hell was all of this footage recorded? Last time I checked, any Skype-esque video chatting app does not record you while you’re using it. Even with Skype; you have to download separate software in order to record any Skype conversations. And by the time the end of this movie is over, there are terabytes of footage that would have filled multiple computers’ storage spaces.

Angie’s boyfriend Gideon shows up, and – oh my gosh, what is a thirty-year-old man doing feeling up a fourteen-year-old girl?! He looks old enough to be her father! That’s disgusting! That’s actually Gideon. You’re into some really weird stuff, aren’t you, Dr. Goi? Megan’s mother, much to Megan’s protest, smashes Megan’s “game box” because…apparently, Megan’s mom’s TV program didn’t record? Anyway, in the midst of this, Megan gets a video chat call from Amy, who, when answered, looks like she’s been sitting there for hours waiting for Megan. Not unlike Asami from Audition, who sits by the telephone for hours waiting for Aoyama to call. Amy wants Megan to go to the mall with her to check out the new “Choo shoes”. Megan turns her down and returns to her call with Gideon and Angie. Gideon, telling Megan about his apparently popular illegal drugs, leaves the call with a very creepy line:

GIDEON: Only Gideon’s slaves get the fairy dust!

Uh…

The next morning, Amy is inexplicably recording herself as she lightly applies makeup. Her father comes into her room to wish her a Happy Fourteenth Birthday, and Amy says that she wants a video camera. Doesn’t she already have a video camera? If not, how is she recording herself right now? Is she using her cell phone camera? Why is she recording herself, anyway? Her father affectionately calls her “princess” and exits her room. Amy sits back down in front of whatever camera is filming right now. She drops this line:

AMY: “Princess”. Princess Pudgy.

Amy must be really insecure, because she is absolutely not fat. She’s not even close. She may have a slight amount of fat on her, but she is skinnier than most people I know.

You know, why couldn’t this movie focus more on Amy’s interactions with her family? I actually do feel that there might, might be chemistry between her and her parents. On the other hand, Amy’s purity and innocence is very heavy-handed in this movie.

Later that day, Megan and three of her friends video chat on Megan’s phone with…some random Guy, who is apparently a friend of theirs. I have never seen four girls video chatting around one phone. Hey, at least the black bar separating the two screens isn’t wiggling like in The Fourth Kind. Guy is holding a party tonight, and he wants Megan and her friends to be there. Megan asks if Amy can come. Guy and Megan’s friends are obviously put off by this, but Megan actually thinks she holds some leverage over whether or not Guy allows Amy to come to the party.

MEGAN: Either Amy comes or I don’t.

Ooookay? Megan, you, uh, actually think that that will wo – seriously? It actually works. Megan and Guy make a deal: Guy allows Amy to go to the party with Megan, and in return, Megan gives Guy a bj at said party. That sounds totally fair.

That night – wait, what? Guy said that the party starts at midnight, but clearly, the sun just went down about an hour ago. Remember, this is set in January of 2007. The days are still short. It should be dark as hell by midnight. I’m writing this in June of 2016, and there are plenty of days in which the sun has set or is barely setting by nine o’clock at night. Anyway, Megan and two of her friends arrive, Amy in tow. Apparently, you actually have to pay ten bucks to get into this party. Also, why did Megan and her friends dress up somewhat for the party? Why has Amy dressed up like she’s going to a party with her church youth group, or whatever they call it in whichever Christian denomination Amy is part of? Not that that’s a bad thing, Amy; I myself am Mormon – I’m just as Christian as you are. Amy, you have no idea of the hellhole you’re about to enter.

Yeah! Let’s party! Let’s get drunk! Let’s do some drugs! One particular young lady is supposed to be smoking a freshly rolled joint. Even though she holds the lighter up to the joint, she doesn’t actually light it. Even though she sticks the end in her mouth, she doesn’t actually inhale.

Woo, flashlight party because apparently this house is abandoned and there’s only electricity in a few rooms! That’s going to make dancing really awkward. Also, get this: even though this movie is supposed to be found-footage, you can clearly hear the music that’s playing carry over seamlessly between at least two shots. That effect not only can only be done in post-production, but it is amazingly distracting, and it immediately vaporizes any possible sense of realism.

Dr. Goi? You were not only the director of Megan is Missing, but the editor as well. This is a really rookie mistake, especially from someone who, at the time of making Megan is Missing, had thirty years of filmmaking experience and an Emmy nomination under his belt. Wow.

Amy hangs out with Megan and her friends, who smoke, but exhale before the smoke gets anywhere near their lungs. Great job helping Amy fit in, Megan. As the party continues, I can’t help but notice that the booze that everyone is drinking is that particular brand of beer that is actually nonalcoholic. Guy goes up to Megan and brings her into a side room, where Megan gives him a bj offscreen. Amy wanders around the party, trying not to be noticed. Gideon notices her, goes up to her, and starts feeling her up. When Amy shoves him away, Gideon swings his fist so fast and hard that the air between his fist and Amy’s face makes a slapping sound. The shadow of the a boom mic is visible. Amy walks off to look for Megan, only to find her giving Guy head. Well, only making the motions of giving Guy head and motioning wiping jizz off her mouth, because a few seconds later, Guy stands up, and his pants are clearly zipped.

By the time we get our second montage of teens waving their flashlights around, laughing, acting drunk as hell, and not doing anything specific, I had been thinking that this party scene had been going on way too long.

Tim ta do som mor drugz…and just cut away before that chick snorts anything. Amy is midway up the stairs, clearly not well; the nonalcoholic beer seems to be getting to her. At the bottom of the stairs sit Megan’s two friends. The cameraman asks the two friends to do something sexy, for example, make out with each other. The friend on the right side of the cameraman responds by dumping a little baggie of nonspecific drugs into her mouth. Oh, uh, that would actually be really disgusting and a massive waste of some really expensive…coke? Then Right chick, the coke (?) still on her tongue, makes out with Left chick. What the hell? And then Amy, conveniently right above them, pukes on them, even though her mouth is clean when the camera pans up to her. Way to go, Dr. Goi. You failed to do enough research to know that you do not upend nonspecific drugs (presumably coke {?}) into your mouth. You snort the coke (?). What was even in that little baggie? Powdered sugar? If that had been actual coke, Right chick would have made a facial expression of disgust.

I have never been to an actual high school party, but this is not what they’re like.

Also, why in heaven’s name is Amy so unpopular and unliked? What has she done, apart from be a Christian, to warrant the detestation of each of her classmates save Megan?

We finally, and I mean finally, cut to Megan and Amy at their respective homes, video chatting for some reason. Does no one in this movie’s universe text or make a simple phone call? Amy, not even in tears, describes herself as worthless. Megan tells her that she’s not, but then talks about the bj she gave Guy. Amy describes it as “kind of gross”. What a massive understatement. Megan says that she herself was actually in charge, and that Guy can’t come unless she lets him. Yeah, it totally looked like you were in charge. Megan says that Amy will do the same to some guy eventually. I’m pretty sure she won’t have to unless she wants to. But Amy says that she’d be too embarrassed to do such a thing. Uh, Amy, I’m pretty sure you’d be feeling some other negative emotion when doing that. Megan says that Amy should practice on something. Like a banana.

And then Megan inexplicably describes That One Time at summer camp when a seventeen-year-old camp counselor, who Megan describes as looking like a bald Kevin Spacey from Se7en (breaking the rule of not referring to a better movie within your own crappy one), somehow got her to give him a bj. She was ten at the time. And she goes into unnecessarily graphic detail as to their location, what happened, what it was like, the look and size of his penis, the actual sexual act, his “O” face, and the amount of semen ejaculated, and where said semen went. Dammit, Dr. Goi, did you have, like, the biggest boner ever while writing this scene? Seriously, why did you write this? This is disgusting! I actually gagged while listening to this. I don’t know why, but seeing and hearing bjs makes me gag. There’s only one way to properly screw someone: normally. Also, Megan is talking about this obvious rape like Lena Dunham did the morning after she had regretful sex (she was most certainly not raped). Seriously, Megan, you’ve been raped! You’ve been raped! You’ve been raped, Megan! Why the hell didn’t you contact the authorities? Weren’t you ever taught how to not get into situations like that? Anyway, as Megan is describing the amount of semen and where it went, her mother, like a freaking ninja, silently comes into the room, yanks Megan’s phone out of her hands for a second, and tells Megan to go to bed. It’s probably after four in the morning. It’s also as if Megan’s mom (the actress playing her) was standing behind the camera the whole time. Megan’s mother leaves the room, and Megan and Amy briefly talk about running away together from the liberal hellhole that is California and to the more conservative haven of Texas before they go to sleep. I would gladly buy them their airplane tickets from LAX to Dallas/Ft. Worth or Midland.

And then the opening shot of the movie plays again, but is extended. Amy gets a new video camera for her birthday, but it’s still the same quality as every other camera in the movie. Megan and Amy try to think of something special to do. Megan jokes that Amy should strip, Amy responds that she would be boring and jokes that Megan should strip. Megan jokingly raises the bottom of her shirt a few inches for a split second. Amy stops her, saying that her parents might accidentally see the video. Megan jokes that Amy’s dad is kind of hot, and Amy responds with

AMY: I so did not hear that.

ME: My thoughts exactly.

Megan and Amy come up with the idea to tell their life stories. Megan goes first. And we learn about Megan as a person. Megan tearlessly describes how her real dad left, and that her stepfather sexually molested her for two years before going to prison. Amy hugs Megan. This is where I thought, Am I feeling something? Good heavens, I am. As annoying as these characters have been thus far, it’s really nice to see one of them open up. Megan was sexually abused as a child, and I’m starting to feel for her. More so, I’m starting to feel the bond between Megan and Amy. I’m starting to feel that though Amy sees Megan as a role model and the popular girl that she herself wants to be, Megan sees Amy as a role model and as the pure, clean, innocent girl that she herself wishes she had remained. But here’s the thing that sodomizes this movie with a chainsaw: this scene is entirely pointless! It has no context! There is nothing in this scene character-related that connects it to the plot, let alone advances it! What the hell?! This scene could have been just what this movie needed to finally get it out of the hangar, fueled, loaded, onto the runway, and into the air! But it is entirely pointless! It doesn’t just ruin the movie; it makes it explode while still in the hangar! And the acting in this scene is so lackluster! Megan needed to cry or at least choke up while talking about her past! Also, what was the point of the first shot in the movie if it was just going to be shown again later? Way to go, Dr. Goi.

Later that day, Amy’s friend Lexi (the Right chick from the party) introduces Megan via video chat to some guy going by the painfully generic online name “skaterdude”. His name is actually Josh, and even though clearly the only resemblance between the two is the eyes, Lexi says that he looks like Brad Pitt. She also mentions that he met George Clooney in person.

Cool. I once got to meet Nicolas Cage in person. See, in my sophomore year of high school, I played baritone saxophone in band, and I was part of a saxophone quartet. On one particular day, we were asked to play background music in the lobby of the legislature building (I lived in Carson City, the capital of Nevada at the time). While we were doing so, one lady who worked there came out and told us that Nicolas Cage himself was there because he was advocating some bill that would positively affect filming rights in Nevada (Cage is a native Nevadan). The lady brought him out, and we were each able to shake his hand. Another time, this one being much more recent, I got tickets for me and my brother to go to a Rand Paul rally at the Republican Headquarters in Reno. We went there, we were impressed by his speech, and we were even able to shake his hand and get a picture with him. I’m not going to show the picture here unless I can blur out my stupid grin (I was and still am a fan of Rand Paul).

Insert scene in which Amy gives a really inconsistent video tour of her house that only goes to further shoehorn in her wholesomeness, innocence, purity, and naiveté. Why does she need to single out only one of her stuffed animals and point out the barbecue on the patio?

It was while I was writing these last few paragraphs that I realized that Megan and Amy are so undeveloped and so unmemorable that I was constantly unintentionally mixing up which one was Amy and which one was Megan.

Megan wastes no time before she starts video chatting with Josh. Yes. Talking to someone you don’t know on the Internet. Gee, I wonder what could go wrong. Josh’s webcam is broken, so it’s video on Megan’s end, and audio on Josh’s end. Why doesn’t Megan just audio chat with him? So Josh can tell her that she’s attractive and that he will meet her at some party that night. While Megan is walking to the party, Amy calls her, again through video chat for some reason, and asks Megan what she’s up to. Amy, you don’t need to know Megan’s every move. Also, why in the hell aren’t you just texting her or just plain calling her? Megan tells Amy about Josh and the party and hangs up.

It is here that I noticed that Amy and Megan must have really damn good steady-cam functions on their phones. The only other explanation would be for the cameraman to literally be walking a few feet in front of the actresses.

Amy is sitting in her room, telling the camera that she’s flipping through various magazines to find the perfect dress for her senior prom, though acknowledging that it’s years away. And this scene is entirely pointless.

Amy calls Megan the next morning to ask how the party went, but Megan tells her that Josh didn’t even show his face for the entirety of the four-hour party. Is Megan’s phone glued to her dresser?

Later, Megan video chats with Josh and calls him out on his bull. Josh makes an excuse, saying that he’s shy. Megan, like a moron, actually buys it and all is forgiven. Josh asks Megan if she wants to go out and get some ice cream that night. Megan is all for it, but then forgets about it in less than ten seconds when she says that she and some of her friends (including Amy) are going out that night to see (and I quote) “the new Matt Damon movie”. Really? Wow. Hold on a sec – what Matt Damon movie are you going to see? The only Matt Damon movie that was out near January of 2007 was The Good Shepherd, which was rated R. How exactly do a group of fourteen-year-old girls plan to get in to see it? Megan tells Josh that she’ll “web” him after the movie to figure something out. Wait, did they both just forget that Josh just asked Megan to go get some ice cream with him? The movie literally forgot about that over the course of less than ten seconds.

That evening, though the movie clearly forgets that by the time it’s seven PM in January, it’s already really dark, Megan explains the situation to Amy, and tells Amy that she should come by Megan’s place after the movie to meet Josh. Megan and Amy see each other coming and hang up. The fact that this scene is entirely pointless is one thing, as it’s odd why Megan would call Amy rather than tell her about the situation when they encounter each other. But something happens at the very beginning of this scene that isn’t just inept; it’s downright laughable. I myself burst out laughing when I heard it.

You can clearly hear the director shout “Action!” at the very beginning of the first shot. Wow, Dr. Goi. Wow. That is really bad, especially considering that you were not only the director of this movie, but the editor as well, and the fact that you were the President of the American Society of Cinematographers. Wow. That is a really rookie mistake, especially from someone who, at the time, had had thirty years of filmmaking experience.

That night, when Megan and Amy head to Megan’s house after the movie, Megan introduces Amy to Josh. Amy leaves right after. Josh asks Megan to meet him in twenty minutes behind the diner, and Megan agrees to do so. Josh and Megan also mutually agree that Megan trusts Josh. Megan ends the call, grabs her stuff, and exits the house.

Megan, you are way too trusting. Especially after only two days of online chatting.

The next day, Amy calls two of Megan’s friends, asking where Megan has gone. These two friends seem to have an extreme aversion to Amy calling them, as they hang up on her almost immediately after they tell Amy that they haven’t seen Megan. Amy, are you using one of those old-timey cell phones that are the size of a brick and that everyone expected to go out of style? Because that phone you’re miming the use of could only ever be that size.

So, apparently Megan is now missing? Oh. Okay. The movie’s acting surprisingly nonchalant about it. Either that, or Dr. Goi is trying way too hard or not hard enough to be subtle.

Amy goes home and video chats with Josh, asking him if he’s seen Megan. He hasn’t.

Cut to a terribly made parody of a Missing Child PSA. Transition into a cheaply made newscast that uses completely inappropriate fonts, edits, and transitions for a news network on public programming in 2007, and has a newscaster with an inconsistent Southern accent. In an interview with the principal of Megan’s school, we learn that apparently Megan was a role model at her school. Bullhonky: she hated school and was into drug use, partying, and indiscriminate sex. That is not how to be a role model. In an interview with Megan’s mother, we learn that her mother really wants her daughter back. Hypocrite. And then, just as the program is ending, we learn that another student named Tercel Jackson is also missing, but he only gets a single mention. Well, that’s ridiculous.

Amy is recording herself on her bed talking to the camera. We see her phone next to her. It’s a Motorola V3 Razr. That thing must have, like, a few terabytes of storage on there. Amy tells the camera that she knows Megan is alive through some sort of sixth sense. Dr. Goi, do you know what recent movie tried to pull that ridiculous plot device? The Forest, which is one of the worst movies I’ve ever reviewed.

Another newscast: security camera footage behind a nameless diner shows Megan being abducted, but not even trying to get away from Josh.

Then the movie shows us the footage again three times. We saw what happened the first time; you don’t need to show us this soundless footage with a staticky filter on top anymore.

Why are we never shown any scenes of Amy’s parents talking to Amy about the situation? Doing so could have created one or more really good scenes. We’ve already seen Megan open up (despite the fact that the scene was entirely pointless), so this should be Amy’s time to open up and let her emotional side show and our time to sympathize with her as a character.

Speaking of Amy, she video chats with Josh. When Josh acts shifty after being asked about Megan’s disappearance, Amy cuts off the call, goes to the police, and tells them that Josh “Skaterdude” is most likely the person who abducted Megan. And an entire section of a newscast is dedicated to that. Amy’s face is all over the news. Oh, and the website provided by the press about the investigation is just the movie’s website.

Dr. Goi, you failed to do enough research to determine that when evidence is provided toward a police investigation, both the evidence and its provider are to be kept confidential and anonymous. The press would not have been allowed to show Amy on the news.

Amy starts filming various locations where she and Megan would hang out. She starts filming the diner, but Lexi and another of Megan’s friends are there. They see Amy and immediately go over to her and start dropping various accusations at her, telling her that it’s her fault that, well, Megan is Missing. Dr. Goi, I would love to know how exactly Lexi and her friend think that it’s Amy’s fault that Megan is gone.

I should probably mention that Dr. Goi wrote this story. So why are Lexi and her friend so convinced that it’s Amy’s fault that Megan has been abducted? After all, it was Lexi that introduced Megan to Josh, right? Is this Lexi’s way of dealing with her own guilt, transferring the blame to someone else to cope with her insecurity? Speaking of which, why has she not been investigated? Dr. Goi? Dr. Goi?

Lexi then goes into an awkward rant that is filled with one of the signs of a bad actor: rather than showing the necessary emotion through her voice, Lexi waves her arms around spastically.

Amy then goes to some bridge over some creek. She reveals to us that she has hidden her old, ragged teddy bear under this bridge in response to her mother telling her to throw it away. I can see why Amy’s not so popular. And as Amy is talking…uh-oh! Dere’s uh GUY behind hur!

Amy, back at home, is called by Josh, who drops all sorts of threats. Amy never seems to get the idea that maybe she should hang up until way too late. Amy finally hangs up. I yell at the screen, “Okay, you’ve just gotten all sorts of threats to your physical safety and that of your family! Now call the cops and get a round-the-clock watch on your house!”

Josh just doesn’t have the right voice to play a bastard. Also, how have the police not traced his IP address through his account on…whatever video chat social media site existed back in 2007? MySpace? Bebo?

The next newscast features an awfully thought out, filmed, and edited reenactment of Megan’s kidnapping. Because that’s totally in good taste.

And now comes the first factor that people who like this movie constantly use to defend it: the two oh-so-skurry pictures of Megan being tortured that were posted on a message board and turned in to the police. Lookit dose picshurs! Dey’re so spoopy!

We see Amy under the bridge again before her camera freeze-frames on a hand reaching for her. Uh-oh!

The final newscast of the movie, this time focusing on the disappearance of Amy, mistakenly identifies Amy as being fifteen rather than fourteen years old. When Amy’s parents are interviewed, they, perhaps unintentionally, put forth the one emotion you absolutely should not put forth when you’re acting in a movie in which your own daughter has been kidnapped: boredom. Megan’s three friends are interviewed as being part of a group that is wrapping pink ribbons around trees as a symbol of hope. And I couldn’t help but notice that they intentionally omitted Amy’s name when saying who this campaign is for.

MEGAN’S ASIAN FRIEND: Hopefully it’ll make whoever took her feel bad and let her go.

Ahem. Even though this newscast is about Amy, the searchers make it clear that they’re only concerned about Megan. Amy can stay missing for all they care. Wow. You three are bitches (pardon me, I only say anything worse than mild swears when necessary).

You know, Josh isn’t even at fault for Amy’s disappearance. He would never have had a bone to pick with Amy had the press not plastered her face and the evidence she provided all over the news! It’s the effing press who’s at fault here!

Also, the townspeople are too busy tying ribbons to trees and reenacting Megan’s (but not Amy’s?) abduction and aren’t spending any time actually looking for her. Ehh, the town will find them. What the hell is wrong with them?

An arbitrary length of time later, a group who’s actually looking for Amy finds her camera in a trash can.

The last twenty-two minutes of supposedly unedited footage from Amy’s camera is cited by every fan of this movie as being disturbing to the point of physical illness.

Do you want to know why I doubt such claims? Because the footage here is not only unconvincing, unrealistic, and awkward, but the acting is terrible, and the scripting is awful. Most importantly, it was not only not disturbing in the slightest, but it is effing boring.

It turns out that Josh has this pseudo-dungeon in which he has locked Amy up in her underwear with a manacle around her neck that is chained to the wall of a medieval-esque cell.

The first part of the footage shows Amy screaming for help. Save your breath, Amy. Nobody’s going to hear you down there. The acting here is terrible. Josh throws a bucket of water over Amy to shut her up. He then shows her her teddy bear, and uses the teddy bear to force her to eat her dinner like a dog. He then gives her the teddy bear. We keep seeing this very noticeable blue barrel. My thoughts were, Either he’s going to kill Amy and stick her inside the barrel, or he’s going to stick her in the barrel and either toss her into a river or bury her alive. Actually, is Josh storing Megan’s corpse in there?

The second part of the footage shows Josh forcing Amy facedown onto a table and raping her from behind. The camera is focused on her face. And here is where the acting could not fall any lower. When Amy is being raped, Amy is not only tearlessly crying, but she’s smiling, and looks like she’s about to chuckle. Good heavens, Amy, you’re kind of a freak – you secretly enjoy rape. I can see why you’re not so popular. Anyway, I have only seen this level of poor acting twice before in any movie, period. The first actor that committed such a sin was Jan Claire as Ellie in Madman. The second was Harmon Stevens as Dr. Masterson in Mesa of Lost Women. Amber Perkins as Amy in Megan is Missing has become the third. It’s a pity, because at a few earlier moments, I had thought that Miss Perkins might actually have talent. Eventually, Amy stops crying and resigns herself to her rapely fate. Josh comes, and we see his bloody hand in front of the camera. Wait, wh – blood? What?! And my thoughts were, Oh, so she’s broken now. What a stereotype. No, Dr. Goi. You did not earn that breakdown. Sure, we saw her breaking down, but we did not experience her breaking down. These scenes are so poorly scripted and acted that they cease to become even slightly disturbing and instead become downright laughable. There was so little effort put into Amy’s emotional breakdown. There was 1) being forced to eat like a dog, and 2) rape. Dr. Goi, you claim that this sequence is disturbing, yet you don’t have the guts to show any nudity or, well, the actual raping. Do you know what other movie tried to do that? David DeFalco’s Chaos. Go read that review of that effing movie for more info, Dr. Goi.

The third part of the footage shows Josh getting Amy out of her cell with the promise of her going home. He lures her over to the barrel, and then opens the lid, revealing the decomposing corpse of Megan. So Megan’s been dead for days and has been rotting in the barrel. How could Amy not smell the rot? So Josh shoves Amy into the barrel and puts the lid back on. Amy is trapped. I saw the use of that barrel coming from a mile away. Josh somehow carries the barrel with over two hundred and fifty pounds of flesh outside. He sets it on the ground and starts digging a hole next to it. Amy continuously begs Josh to let her out, resorting to telling Josh that she loves him and will be the best girlfriend/wife/sex slave ever. Do you want to know why this sequence is painfully dull and boring? Not only does it show every individual scoop, every shovelful of dirt, but the scene goes on for (I kid you not) ten effing minutes. Oh, and you can see the occasional shadow of a crewman.

Move along, please.

Uh, can we go any faster?

Hey! Pick up the pace! Chop chop!

Oh my gosh. Are you serious? You’re going to show us every single shovelful of dirt as Josh digs this hole?

Come on, move it!

Cut to something! Anything!

Just move it!

Oh my gosh! We get it! He’s digging a hole so he can bury Amy alive! Just move faster than this! Please!

This is agony! This is total boredom! I…I, uh…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Eventually, the hole is dug, and Josh shoves the barrel into the hole. He fills in the hole, and Amy’s screams are muffled after maybe two inches of dirt. Yeah, yeah, I really don’t care. Josh finishes the job and walks away into the darkness. The footage ends there.

Insert a brief scene alongside the credits of Amy and Megan looking forward to their bright futures. What a freaking load.

I have no idea how anyone made it this far through the movie, let alone was actually able to take this seriously.

Dr. Goi and readers, I am fully and completely aware that events like this happen. Often. But this movie does real cases of this no justice. The victims of such atrocities deserve better representation than this exploitative tripe. A movie being allegedly based on actual events and trying to address real problems is not excused from criticism. A worthwhile message with its heart in the right place does not a good movie make. I know plenty of people on the Internet want to single me out and scream at me, “But the movie has a good message and is nice and a force for good and whatever and if you don’t like it then that means you’re evil!” Guess what: the world doesn’t work like that. Even if this movie was literally sent from God Himself to educate us on the subject, I would still find it insufferable to sit through.

I know full well that psychos like the one in Megan is Missing exist. I know full well that the Internet is a dangerous place for those who don’t know how to be safe when online. But Megan is Missing tells us that this is the status quo. People like Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jared Loughner, Albert Fish, and the Zodiac killer are apparently a dime a dozen. Dr. Goi blows the issue way out of proportion and unintentionally delivers long-winded, silly fearmongering because he doesn’t understand the Internet in the spirit of the primal fear of the unknown. Which is strange, because Dr. Goi seems to be on IMDb and Reddit a lot. At the end of May of 2016, I traveled to my childhood home to visit family and friends. I watched Megan is Missing and planned to review it while I was waiting the hour and a half to board my flight home. By the movie’s logic, the kind old couple that sat next to me on the plane, the husband of which is a Navy veteran, could be psychos that want to abduct, rape, and kill me. Believe me, Dr. Goi, I understand. I too fear the power of the Internet. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t call out a movie on its lack of sufficient quality and its poor relaying of that message.

Dr. Goi, if the intent behind this movie was to warn parents and children alike of the dangers that exist on the Internet, then why not give the money used to make it or the money you earned from it to the FBI’s field office? What did you do with the money you earned by making this movie?

Also, I’m fully aware that there are fourteen-year-old kids out there that do hard drugs and have indiscriminate sex, but the portrayal of teens in this movie is completely unrealistic. The film as a whole has a very leering, pervy tone that is eerily reminiscent of movies by Larry Clark, in which the audience is supposed to be saddened by the wasted youth of today. Unfortunately, just like in Larry Clark movies, the cameraman in Megan is Missing seems to be spending too long ogling the nubile and nimble young bodies on the screen.

Even their actions on the Internet are unrealistic. Dr. Goi fails to realize that there is a difference between the accessibility of the Internet and the ability to be smart while on the Internet. Apparently teens in the Megan is Missing universe can’t help talking to people they don’t know online, visiting suspicious sites with inappropriate or pornographic content, playing online games until their brains melt, clicking on popups that tell you that you won a free iPad, posting sensitive photos, downloading suspicious apps, and even accessing the Deep Web.

In order for the movie to function, we as the audience are expected to buy that teens in 2007 only ever communicate via video chat and that these conversations are somehow recorded and stored somewhere. We also are expected to buy that videos of violent content, including a sexual assault and a murder, were somehow actually made available to the filmmakers to show to the moviegoing public.

This movie does not automatically work, let alone become scary or shocking, just because it stars two characters that are fourteen years old. Unless you sell me on what I’m watching, just telling me that this person is of a specific age will not make me automatically care for them or make me engaged during their problems later in the film. It doesn’t engage my potentially willing sense of disbelief. I need to care for Megan and Amy up front, so I can feel for them when crap hits the fan. If you don’t make me feel for the characters by the time things actually happen, it’s too late.

It was not up to par for either being informative or “scary”. It wholly relied on the hype and fixation people have toward the idea of young ladies being kidnapped by Internet predators.

Even as just a movie, it fails on every level. The film is literally so cheaply and shoddily made that you can hear Dr. Goi shout “Action” in one scene. But I could forgive that had the characters been developed and thought out, the acting being at least passable, and the writing actually being good. Unfortunately…

Amy’s innocence, purity, and naïveté are shoehorned in. She’s a blank slate that is seemingly intentionally underdeveloped because some screenwriters are under the delusion that doing so somehow makes a character we can sympathize with. John Smith in I Am Number Four was intentionally blank so that he could be the social everyman so that every pre/pubescent boy could step into his shoes and imagine him as the character. Did Megan is Missing try that with Amy? If Dr. Goi did so, then he failed, because when a character is so innocent, she ceases to become human and therefore ceases to become relatable. The only possible character flaw that she had was naïveté. And her acting is just as bad, ranging from subpar in some scenes to downright laughable in the rape scene. I get that she’s trying to act, but often she forgets to do so and simply announces her lines. Her actions throughout the movie are ridiculous, though none more so than during the final twenty-two minutes. Amy never seems to be taking her situation seriously. She does nothing but scream at Josh. Well, poorly acted screaming. Amy seems to think that the “if you let me go I won’t tell anyone” shtick will actually work. Moreover, Amy makes exactly zero attempts to escape, even when she’s not chained up. During the rape scene, there is a torture device that is inches from her face, and yet she never goes for it. Also, during the final twenty-two minutes, if Amy had to tell us that she was emotionally and psychologically broken, then the movie failed to make me feel for her. The breakdown as a whole could have been horrifying and heartbreaking, but it was not earned. That is why Superman’s death in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was awfully executed.

Megan as a character, though having a different trait than Amy, is just as vapid and vacuous, but more so; she is purely and simply a plot device meant to move the movie forward. And her acting is only slightly better than Amy’s. Her actions are also ridiculous. I know better than to meet up with a complete stranger. For me to ask a girl out on a date, I need to be legitimate friends with her first.

Josh’s profile as a criminal is very blurry; he seems to be pretty damn intelligent and devious in some scenes, but he makes some major mistakes in others. He is not a believable criminal, and if this movie was actually set in reality, the police would have been able to track him down.

The movie forgets to follow the rule of “show, don’t tell”. The movie as a whole is way too talky for its own good. Talky movies, such as Exorcist 3, can be good, but movies like Exorcist 3 were unique – Exorcist 3 in particular was written and directed by William Peter Blatty, author of not only The Exorcist, but also Legion, which was the book that Exorcist 3 was based on. There were an abundance of lines that just worked, for example: “Drained of his whole blood supply…and not a drop spilled.”

Even the plot was poorly thought out. Crucial points in the plot turn into massive plot holes. Plot Hole Number One: after inexplicably not telling the police about him earlier, you know, before the odds of Megan even being alive shrink by the second, when Amy goes to the police to provide evidence about Megan’s possible kidnapper, her face and name are plastered all over the news. This sort of thing does not happen. Her identity, as well as the evidence she provided, would have been kept a secret. Seeing as Amy was one of the last people to see Megan alive, she should have been questioned. Lexi should have been questioned too, as she was the person who introduced Megan to Josh. Plot Hole Number Two: if all of Megan and Amy’s video chat sessions were somehow recorded, wouldn’t the police have known about Josh beforehand? The information about Josh should have been discovered significantly sooner. Also, if Josh had posted photos of Megan on a message board, there would have been a way to track his IP address. That is, unless we’re expected to believe that Josh is not only a kidnapper, a rapist, and a murderer, but also a serious computer geek. Plot Hole Number Three: why was there a complete lack of a police investigation?

The final twenty-two minutes. If you are deeply disturbed by this section, you missed a ton of films in the past several decades of movies. The events throughout the section felt ungodly sanitized, presumably because Amy is only fourteen, especially when compared with one particular example that I refer to often: the rape scene in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. That was brutal. Amy is then kept prisoner, forced to eat like a dog, raped, and stuffed in a barrel with Megan’s corpse (I totally predicted that). Then we sit through ten effing minutes while Amy, like the naïve idiot she is, clearly not seeing where this is going, tries to talk her way out of the barrel. And Amy never seems to take her situation seriously, even when it’s too late.

So Megan and Amy go missing and…what? We never get an idea of how these events affect the general populace.

The first sixty minutes of this film consist entirely of banal, repetitive dialogue, shoddy filmmaking, and worthless acting. Then we see the two oh-so-spoopy pictures of Megan, and then, in the final twenty-two minutes, the movie turns into a poorly thought out and shoddily filmed found-footage movie.

Speaking of found-footage, Dr. Goi, making Megan is Missing a found-footage movie was a mistake. I’m sure you did it to try to make the movie more realistic, but the found-footage genre in and of itself is so limiting that it forces awkward scenes and very strange moments, such as Megan and Amy video chatting on their phones when they’re literally on their way to meet each other to go see “the new Matt Damon movie”. Also, who in the film was recording these video chat sessions and why would someone be recording them?

I get what you’re going for, Dr. Goi. I think that if you hadn’t tried to cash in on the new popular genre of horror movie that was going on, then you might have made a much more effective and engaging movie. You could have made a film that made me care instead of expecting me to automatically do so because adult actors (Amber Perkins was twenty) are playing characters of a certain age.

Mr. Goi, I know that you’re reading this, as you’ve commented on almost every article written about your movie on the Internet. I have absolutely nothing against you as a person. Unlike Cyberbully, the previous movie I reviewed on this blog that tackled a somewhat similar subject, your heart was undeniably in the right place when you made this movie. I fully respect that. Honestly. Your efforts to make a worthy, worthwhile statement are lauded; full marks to you. I was originally going to give this movie a score of zero out of five stars, but considering all the effort you and everyone else put into this movie, I will be raising it to a half star out of five. But you really should stick to cinematography, because at the time of writing this review, you have been nominated for four Emmys.

Unfortunately, instead of showing children and teenagers the dangers of Internet predators, you just scared them. They don’t know why to be scared; they just are.

To parents who may watch this movie, I urge you to not show this movie to your children to scare them into submission. Rather, you need to suck it up and do your job as parents.

But hey, I’d much rather people watch and like this than Cyberbully.

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars.

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One thought on “Review 79: Megan is Missing (.5/5)

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