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Megan Is Missing (Michael Goi, 2011)
A timely new cinematic boogeyman arrives with Michael Goiís exploitative yet riveting new film Megan Is Missing. This twisted little movie could best be described as reality horror, as it is purportedly based on actual events and has been cobbled together from footage that claims to have been taken from video diaries, news reports and security cameras. The plot here, which takes on the random quality of real life at times, follows the tragic downward slide of two girls who interact with a mysterious online predator. This is grisly material, and it is to Goiís credit that he does not downplay it, fully engaging with both the potential threat of the creep who stalks the girls and the shocking behavior of the girls themselves.
During the filmís first half we get to know these girls. Fourteen year old Megan is outgoing but somewhat out of control. Her promiscuous nature seems to be rooted in clear abandonment issues, but her protective treatment of Amy, her best friend, becomes endearing. Amy, for her part, is extremely insecure, which helps to explain why she acts somewhat illogically in the filmís second part, which occurs, as the title implies, after Megan goes missing. While the acting of the two young actresses who play Megan and Amy is less than wholly convincing, they come across as convincingly realized characters. The use of the handheld camera and actual locations helps things immensely, making one attribute clumsiness that would otherwise be considered filmmaking flaws to the messiness of real life. Goiís best moment here is without a doubt a sustained sequence at a house party that features enough sordid sex, underage indulgence and peer pressure to put Larry Clark to shame. This part of the movie crackles with energy and suggests a more refined version of Megan Is Missing that would be utterly devastating.
Still, what Goi has delivered, while somewhat compromised by technical issues and the reek of exploitation for exploitationís sake, is pretty potent. Once Megan goes missing, the level of tension ratchets up considerably. Amy, who has been a meek presence throughout the film, suddenly is forced to carry it. Thanks to Goiís insertion of a disturbing, graphic image, genuine concern for the girls becomes inevitable by the filmís midpoint. The grisly last act here confronts us with a nightmare made real. Megan Is Missing is entirely convinced of the terrors that lurk online and by the time it comes to its chilling conclusion most of its viewers will be as well.