found footage

[Movie Review] We Are the Missing (2020) ★★★☆☆

April in We Are the Missing 2020

We Are the Missing turns a simple premise into a well-told creepy tale of speculative fiction. 


We Are the Missing is a horror drama mockumentary that is very well-crafted in all its simplicity. With an extremely low budget of $300 CAD, Andrew J.D. Robinson proves that with a smart well-written script, a simple but effective setup and a story that plays on suggestions and creepy ideas only, without ever showing tangible scares, that it is possible to make a creative horror film and that a good well-told story is the foundation of a good horror film. With a basis in reality, it mixes realism with speculative fiction resulting in a very captivating watch. 

We Are the Missing is free to watch on youtube on Andrew J.D. Robinson’s channel, but you can watch it below this review as well. 


Plot

Documentary filmmaker Carter interviews John and Angie Madison, parents of the 22 year-old missing girl Riley Madison. Her best friend Mackenzie also talks about the strange disappearance of Riley.

Every year a lot of people go missing and are never found and their fate remains a mystery. But in Riley’s case it seems as though she has vanished into thin air. After a couple of interviews, something even weirder happens when Angie and John also disappear without leaving a trace and so does Mackenzie. And they are not the only ones. In their town D’Arcadia people start disappearing and something very sinister might be going on. 


Why you should watch it

We Are the Missing has a realistic premise and a very simple setup. While for the first 30 minutes we only see Angie, John and Mackenzie being interviewed, telling their stories about Riley, her disappearance and who she was, it feels like a solid drama documentary. Something that could happen to any of us. That concept alone is very frightening. But after these 30 minutes, the tone starts to shift towards speculative fiction. Something very creepy and sinister is going on, stated by testimonies of others who have lost a loved one in the last couple of days and we even hear the distress calls about scary phenomena.

Although this change feels a bit sudden and without a clear and logical transition, and makes you wonder ‘how did we get here all of a sudden?’ when you go with it, it will all make sense in the end. Once past that point it turns into a well-told old fashioned Victorian ghost story that revolves all around suggestion and plants a seed of fear into your own mind. Paranormal Activity (2007) did the same thing, although in this film nothing tangible is shown except for the people who tell their story to the camera. Without scenes reconstructing the events, or found footage with scary images, this is all about a creepy idea, that works really well if you are susceptible to this kind of storytelling. 

The setup is simple but effective and with only variations in different people on camera telling their own story, to vary the atmosphere and vibe of the story to keep it interesting. On paper this sounds maybe too simplistic and boring even, but the dialogue is interesting and moving and realistic enough to be captivating and intriguing. Although some storylines add to the creepiness, they sometimes feel lost throughout the film, like Mikey. And when Mackenzie is in the woods looking for urban legend Marvin Carvin’ it gets a bit silly and doesn’t feel like it fits into the narrative. 

The strongest part of the film is the fact that it does feel like a real documentary with real people. Not only due to the dialogue and the realistic topic of missing people, but also the stye of filming and editing. The ending can feel a bit abrupt and unfinished, but that’s part of the story itself. This documentary stays unfinished and feels like a rough cut from what the actual film eventually would have looked like. All the footage is ‘factual’ without any embellishments. That certainly adds to the realism, but the end can also feel a bit underwhelming. 

Although intriguing, with a creative twist and compelling storytelling, it can feel like something is missing. Maybe it’s the abrupt ending, maybe because the camera only has people in front of it telling their story without shots of Carter investigating the Madison’s house, or D’Arcadia which could have made it more dynamic. Still, with actually almost no budget at all, the film has come up with a a simple but effective solution and manages to create an unsettling feeling. 


My favorite part

I thought April, Mackenzie’s sister, was a great addition to the film and a great character that played a big part in unraveling the mystery. I would have liked to see her play a more active part in the film where her character turned out to be the main character who pushed the story forward by taking action and changing the dynamics. Now she merged into the narrative too easily.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Drama factor: ★★★☆☆

Originality factor: ★★★★☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

We Are the Missing is directed and written by Andrew J.D. Robinson. It stars Maissa Houri (Angie Madison), Mark Templin (John Madison), Willow McGregor (Mackenzie Porter), Gabrielle Banville (April Porter), Eleonora Poutilova (Carter), Rebekah Naomi Ayala (Amy Bickle), Chantal Grace (Olivia Perkins), Katherine Stella Duncan (Phoebe Taylor) and Olivia Piercy (Paige Madison).

Duration: 93 minutes. Music: Tyler Matthews, Raymond Richmond. Produced by: WORKOBEY Films. 


Watch the full movie below


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