On January 14th, 2007, 14-year-old Megan Stewart disappeared. Three weeks later, her 13-year-old best friend Amy Herman also vanished. Assembled from video chats, webcam footage, home videos and news reports, this is what happened in the days immediately before, and after, Megan went missing.
MEGAN IS MISSING is a fictional, and cautionary tale centered around two teenage best friends from North Hollywood, Megan Stewart, 14 and Amy Herman, 13. Megan, the most popular girl in school deals with her difficult home life by partying and having random sex with guys, while Amy isn't exactly well liked. She lives a more sheltered life, while dealing with personal insecurities such as her appearance. But besides almost being nearly complete opposites there is a bond shared between the two that have made them friends all of their lives. The two girls spend most of their time chatting via their cell phones and web cameras, and talking to boys online> It is such a meeting with a boy that would eventually result in the disappearance of Megan, and then later Amy. MEGAN IS MISSING, takes you inside a scenario no different than the many disappearance cases that we are often alerted to be the news and other media outlets.
MEGAN IS MISSING is a film that upon seeing its trailer for the first time, I knew it was something unique. Not only does MEGAN IS MISSING exist for the entertainment of an audience, it also sets out to send a message to teens like the ones depicted in the film, and adults alike. The film takes you into the minds of two teens, that are different in personality. but are exactly the same when it comes to their vulnerability. The film is made up of camcorder footage, video chats, video blogs, and just about any type of mobile video media that a typical teen could access. The film itself, doesn't play out in the typical plotted fashion, instead, we are treated to the video chats, video blogs, etc. leading up until the day that Megan goes missing, and than eventually Amy as well. Through these chats and videos, we get a peek at the very different lives of the two girls, from the partying, self loathing, and sex, to abusive family situations. The girls talk about sexual experience and the want to get away from home, and through all of this, as a viewer, you pick up little hints of things that are yet to occur, and feel a sense of dread. The downward spiral for the girls comes when Megan meets a teen male named Josh online and the two begin chatting on a regular basis. Megan chats with Josh via webcam, while Josh opts to voice chat, citing that his webcam is broken. Eventually it comes down to Josh asking the 14 year old Megan to meet him somewhere - and with out a second thought, the young and naive Megan agrees to do so. Megan Stewart is never seen again, which prompts an investigation and broad news coverage. Having not seen Megan for days, Amy begins to question all of Amy's friends, who in turn, also have not heard from her. As more and more days past, with the new video camera that she received for her birthday, Amy begins to document each and every hangout that she and Megan would frequent, in hopes of contributing some useful information to the investigation. Unfortunately, just when Amy started to get deeply involved, she too vanishes, as she is snatched by the very assailant responsible for Megan's disappearance. Not only do they snatch Amy, but they also grab her video camera as well. The last 22 minutes of video footage that the camera would capture, presents the most disturbing period of the film. The footage that we witness in the film's final half hour is quite shocking, I myself was shocked at the details regarding the fate of the two teen girls. But then again, although it is very difficult to watch, the sad reality is that this type of thing happens all of the time in the real world.
The film itself is pretty effective in the way that it tells the story via the faux video chats, web videos and news coverage, but there are times that the film begins to feel a bit campy, and less of a serious portrayal of an actual occurrence. I mostly felt this during the news story segments in which the female newscaster is obviously a take on the real life Nancy Grace. At certain points within the newscast segments, the performances of the actors make them feel as if they've bee staged. Obviously I know that this is a fictitious movie, but the filmmaker's goal here was to make a film that appears to be fact, and on that side of things, the film doesn't always work. But even still, I feel that the film is effective when it needs to be the most, and that it during the film's final act, the time that the viewer needs most to connect with the characters.
Overall, although it is not a perfect film, I feel that MEGAN IS MISSING achieves what it sets out to accomplish, and that is to be somewhat of an educational tool that serves as a warning for parents and people alike.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Supposedly shot in just 8 days, MEGAN IS MISSING, is for the most part an important film for people to see. But with that said, it is definitely not a portrayal that is 100% accurate. Some of the teens in the film, especially the friends that Megan keeps are overly exaggerated and somewhat stereotypical. And as I said, there were other aspects of this film, such as the newscasts, that just didn't feel authentic enough. It is still a unique film that is well executed technically, and Rachel Quinn(Megan Stewart) and Amber Perkins(Amy Herman), who occupy the leads here, give fairly decent performances. In the end, MEGAN IS MISSING is a film that I would have to recommend, based on its message alone.