In today’s day and age, when someone threatens us by saying, ‘You are being watched,’ we can’t help but believe it to be true. This is the harsh reality of modern life. We are under surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Apart from this, our gadget-dependent lifestyle pushes us a step further to be under the radar. The tiniest camera on our devices is part of the grand surveillance scheme the governments in each country are conducting. It’s definitely a breach of privacy done by government institutions in the name of providing security. The Internet makes it worse. All our information floats in the clouds, and it seems that every one of us unknowingly resides on the world wide web. “Missing” has been tagged as a screen-life thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The entire film plays out in various tabs on multiple computer screens. The clutter on the screens, paired with the sounds of incoming notifications and blaring alarm tones, may cause you a lot of anxiety. Sometimes, while watching the film, it may feel like you are operating a computer. So, unknowingly, you are a part of the film, and at one point, you feel completely invested in the film, so much so that you begin to expect what the conclusion might look like. The most interesting part of the film is that all your expectations about what happens, in the end, remain well shrouded with mystery till the end. It is one of those thrillers where the less you know, the better it gets. The adrenaline rush that accompanies the violent throbbing of your heart should be an experience that everyone puts themselves through! Written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, the screenplay has been adapted from a story written by Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty.
At its core, “Missing” is the story of a mother and daughter’s relationship. June is an eighteen-year-old young adult who initially seems to be elated when her overprotective and sometimes overbearing mother leaves for a vacation in Columbia with her boyfriend, Kevin. Grace Allen, her mother, instructs her to pick them up at LAX when they return the next Monday. June parties over the week and arrives late at LAX on Monday. She panics when she doesn’t find her mother exiting the terminal. She tries her mother’s cell phone. Unable to contact her, she contacted the hotel where they were staying in Columbia. The hotel concierge informed her that they left last Friday, but they did not take their luggage along with them. This alarms June, and she contacts the authorities through her mother’s lawyer friend Heather. Through an active investigation and June’s online sleuthing, it is established that Grace Allen was kidnapped, but that happened in Los Angeles, not in Columbia. After this, the more unexpected incidents roll over until what comes out is equivalent to the plot of an episode of a true-crime fictional series. What’s interesting is the way the film was shot. We see the characters and their actions through the front cameras on their laptops and CCTV footage. If these techniques do not bother you much, here is a list of 7 other films you can watch if you liked “Missing”:
“Missing” is believed to be a standalone sequel to the 2018 thriller film “Searching.” It was directed by Aneesh Chaganty, and the directors of “Missing,” Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, were the editors of that film. “Searching” was the first film of its kind and was termed a sleeper hit in the USA. Just like “Missing,” this film foregrounds the tender relationship between a father and his daughter. A California resident named David Kim lost his wife Pamela to lymphoma, and he and his daughter Margot lived together. Margot was sixteen years old, and she was suffering from depression after the loss of her mother. She went missing. David tried to use her laptop to find clues. In the meantime, the case is apparently assigned to a police officer named Vick. It would be later discovered that it was Vick’s son who was involved in Margot being missing, and Vick had deliberately taken up the case to protect her son. Margot is found alive but barely breathing at the bottom of a ravine where Vick’s son had pushed her. “Searching” is available on Netflix.
The Truman Show (1998)
The one word that describes the film is a dystopia. Even before reality TV shows and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” became all the rage, being followed by a camera 24/7 was a premise best fitted for a horror movie. Today, we have fans of shows like “Biggest Loser” and “Big Brother” all over the world. The popularity of such shows leads us to believe that, as viewers, we love to consume anything that is controversial, interruptive, and, more importantly, intrusive. “The Truman Show,” directed by Peter Weir, is a psychological drama and satire about a man named Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey) who was selected from his birth, which was an unwanted pregnancy, and every detail of his life was recorded as part of a television program through cameras. The creator of the television program had manufactured every moment, including the island where Truman stayed. The set was constructed with a dome, and Truman was cut off from the rest of the world. Truman is an insurance agent, and he spends thirty years of his life oblivious to the fact that his life is being recorded for television, and the people whom he meets along his journey through life are mere actors. “The Truman Show” follows the protagonist as he learns the reality of his life and finally breaks free from it. “The Truman Show” is available on Amazon Prime Video.
Love, S*x, And Dhokha” (2010)
Director Dibakar Banerjee’s 2010 film “Love, S*x, and Dhokha” finds its way to this list because of its uniqueness—it is made like a found footage film. India had not seen a film like this before. It is an anthology consisting of three separate stories that are interconnected through the characters. The film is made using different cameras, including spycams, CCTV security cameras, amateur film cameras, and a Handycam. The concept came to Banerjee when he came across MMS clips and started researching what led to these clips being produced. He wrote two short stories and then turned them into three found footage films that followed a love story involving an honor killing and an MMS, and the final story ends with a sting operation. You can watch the film on Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ Hotstar.
Rear Window (1954)
It is probably one of my favorite American mystery thrillers of all time. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the film stars James Stewart as professional photographer Jeff, who is stuck at home with a broken leg. Out of boredom, he picks up his camera and begins to spy on his neighbors. This strange case of unsolicited spying leads to numerous revelations, and in the course of the film, Jeff solves a murder that occurs in his opposite building. The film was adapted by John Michael Hayes from Cornell Woolrich’s story “It Had to be Murder,” published in “Dime Detective ” in 1942. The film is available on Apple TV+.
Made at the turn of the century, this Japanese film anticipates the horrific force that the Internet is eventually going to become. Written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, it follows a group of college students living around Tokyo. They spot a picture of a friend who recently died by suicide being circulated around on the Internet. The friend’s ghost seems to inhabit the world of the Internet. As more people begin to disappear around the city, their images begin to float around too. The increasing number of disappearances turns the city into a ghost town. It is one of the best horror films I have ever watched, and this film is now available on MUBI.