Film Review: Megan Is Missing (2011)

SYNOPSIS:

Fictional drama based on actual events, about 2 teen-age girls who encounter an internet predator.

REVIEW:

Director – Michael Goi
Starring – Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Dean Waite

In October of 1993 twelve year old Polly Hannah Klaas was kidnapped and later found to have been murdered. The following year her father, Marc Klaas, started the KlaasKids Foundation to help spread the word about crimes against children. I mention this because on the cover of the DVD the film gets an endorsement from Marc about how the movie should serve as a wake-up call to parents. In a way it’s hard to criticize a film that someone of Marc’s stature endorses. Honestly, I’m split. On one hand yes, this film is powerful and some of the scenes extremely hard to watch and your heart just aches for the families that have to go through such scenarios. But this film can also feel exploitive, especially the last twenty-two minutes. In the world of horror cinema there have been worse images put onto film but when you are dealing with this particular subject matter, the kidnapping, sexual abuse and murder of underage girls, you have to wonder what exactly the filmmakers were thinking.

Shot in a documentary style, Megan Is Missing starts with words against a black screen. The first reads, “The following film is based on actual events.” Next it reads, “On January 14th, 2007, 14 year old Megan Stewart disappeared. Three weeks later, her best friend Amy Herman also vanished. This film was assembled using cell phone transmissions, computer files, home videos and public news reports.”

Megan Stewart (played by Rachel Quinn) and Amy Herman (played by Amber Perkins) are the best of friends although they couldn’t be more different. At the tender age of fourteen Megan is anything but innocent. She drinks, does drugs and seems to have sex with any boy who happens to show affection towards her. Her home life is unstable to say the least. She doesn’t know her father, her stepfather is in prison for molesting her and her mother is mad at her for sending him there. Amy on the other hand seems to have the perfect life but, being socially awkward and just a little shy, finds it hard to fit in with the popular crowd. In a sense, both of these girls are outcasts in their own way.

For both of these girls, life goes on pretty much as normal. Through their web cam and video camera footage we see them share secrets, hang out and go to parties. That is until Megan meets a guy named Josh online. Of course Josh isn’t who he claims to be and it isn’t long before Megan ends up missing.

This film, for the first hour, really works although at times can be a little uncomfortable to watch. I guess director Michael Goi hung out in teen chat rooms to get a real feel for how they talk and boy, it really does show. Their discussions can be quite frank at times and this movie is very realistic at capturing it. He also does a good job of slowly building a sense of dread because as the audience you know what is going to eventually happen. And while Megan isn’t exactly the most sympathetic character ever to grace the screen, you certainly do feel sorry for her. And when she walks out of her bedroom for the very last time you will feel a sense of sadness. That shot, by far, is the best in the film.

But what about those last twenty-two minutes mentioned above? That is where the filmmakers, in my opinion, went a little overboard. In addition, there are two still images shown on the screen a little bit prior that are very disturbing to say the least. Powerful, oh yeah, but disgusting all the same. If they wanted shock, they got it.

This is a film that I would recommend seeing once but I have to warn will not be for everyone. The problem with a film like this is that I can’t ever see the need to purchase it to watch over and over. Once is enough. One thing is for sure, though. You won’t soon get some of the images out of your head.

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22 Responses to Film Review: Megan Is Missing (2011)

  1. Shawn says:

    Just finished watching this based on the review here. You were absolutely right. It’s a see it once film and it definitely goes over the top. While I get that the filmmaker did this to wake up those who feel that this doesn’t happen it’s a very disturbing film. Important but horrifying. Great review as you hit this film on the head.

  2. Angel Van Croft says:

    Thanks for the comment. I’m in agreement with everything you said. One thing I always wonder about is the investors of films like these. Can you really make money off of something that in theory no one will really ever want to purchase? I would think rental would only take you so far. Could be wrong, of course.

    • Hollie says:

      I haven’t seen the film, but according to this review; I don’t think the intent was to make money. It was to raise awareness. But I definitely would think you’re correct about not making as much money if people don’t buy it. However, after reading this, I definitely want to watch it now to see for myself, so I guess that in itself helps the producers make money, because of how extreme the reviews are.

  3. Emily says:

    I mainly love horror movies even though I get absolutely terrified when watching them but this one was horrible. If you are teenage girls planning to have a horror movie night, I would definately not reccomend getting this one out. It was awfully disturbing with horrible pictures that won’t go away. By the end of the movie I felt like crying it was so bad… What makes it even worse is the fact that it was based on a true story. You see the face and reaction of a girl who is getting raped! It is so terrible to watch. This movie will not be the kind of movie to get you screaming but enjoying the movie like you would hope in a normal horror movie, but it will leave you in tears and horrified. The pain and totrure these girls go through looks scarily realistic which is why I would absolutely not recommend seeing this movie :(

  4. Ira says:

    just finished watching the movie and God knows those images will stay with me forever. even now I’m trying to write this but from time to time just stop and stare at the monitor. I’m absolutely torn: either it’s a must see or must not. it’s so realistic in picturing life of modern teenagers yet so disturbing. I’m 22 and I wasn’t near as bad as those girls at their age but I can recollect a handful of situations that could end like that. Every girl can. You just meet a stranger, or answer your phone and there’s some guy who wants to meet you. And you talk to him and you meet him. It’s not even about your behavior those things just happen. Well I guess it is a must see you can never be too careful… I still can’t think straight though…
    The only thing I couldn’t figure out was this movie really based on true events? May be someone can help me out…

    • Angel Van Croft says:

      Ira, thanks for the comment. I haven’t seen the film since i reviewed it and those images are still stuck with me. As for your question, to my knowledge it is not based on one true event, but a combination of real life cases. I searched on IMDB and found this review from a person that remembers a tragedy in Portland. Pretty similar but again, no proof of it all being that one case. Here is the link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1087461/reviews

  5. Jess rabbit says:

    Hey there…
    Like others, I have just finished watching this movie, and I think your review was pretty accurate. However, I personally disagree with the notion that the last 22 minutes feels exploitative. I read the director’s comment’s on the official movie website, and I tend to believe he was in it for the right reasons. He made many personal and powerful statements, but one in particular resonated with my own feelings – “… to defeat evil, you first have to know what evil is.” I’m not a huge fan of the word “evil” for it’s religious connotations, but the gist of the comment is still the same; in order to avoid and stand against such horrific acts, we first need to truly understand the horror of what these girls – and so many others in the world – have been put through. To tackle such problems, or even just to properly inform ourselves and our kids of the inherent risks associated with the internet, we need to experience the horrific reality of it. I have only now realised how desensitised we have become as a society (myself included) to the concepts of abduction, rape, torture, murder… To the idea that serial killers and sociopaths can walk among us undetected, looking spectacularly average, fitting in, socialising, grooming, plotting…

    I have read countless news stories, watched numerous documentaries, heard many recanted incidences of similarly terrible things people have done/been put through, and seen very realistic fictional portrayals. However, there is a certain psychological distance, a little cocoon of ignorance that protects us from the harsh and brutal realities of murder, rape, serial killers… We know the stories are real, we know these kinds of people exist, but it’s always happening to someone else a long way away, to whom we can not truly relate. We are only ever experiencing the idea of it vicariously. I will never know the comfort of that blissful ignorance again. I can not un-know what I have witnessed, or the nauseating fear and shock instilled by those images. I have now in a sense experienced first hand real murder, real rape, a real sociopath, committing the most abhorrent acts in a completely professional, mechanical and emotionless manner… and even worse, I have had to reconcile the fact that he is still out there – roaming around amongst unsuspecting people – and the realisation that this is not an isolated incident, nor is he isolated in his behaviour. I have to accept the fact, for the first time ever, that he is real, tangible, only one of many… and has probably killed before and since. And I think I was equally shocked to realise how accurate re-enactments and fictional portrayals of these people and their crimes can be.

    I will never be the same, and as bad as it feels, I am somehow thankful for that. I can never again detach myself from these kinds of stories and subconsciously push it out of my mind and forget about it. And I am only one person… imagine the profound effect this could have on our attitudes as parents if this movie reaches a wide audience? Shocking but necessary. The biggest wake up call of my life.

    • Angel Van Croft says:

      Jess rabbit, very, very well worded response and i agree with everything you say. some of the exploitive complaints i think stem from the fact that the subject matter is of girls that are underage, which of course makes it that much tougher and horrific to watch (and to your point, what the director was aiming for). ironic and sad to think that if the girls portrayed were, say college-aged, the exploitive label might not come up as much. there is a definite correlation when it comes to the desensitizing of the public when all we see are images and news stories but from a distance.

      i remember an interview with John Douglas, the famous FBI profiler who was portrayed in Silence of the Lambs. he said that if he met someone who was opposed to the death penalty and seemed not willing to listen to any arguments to the contrary, he would play them an audio recording of a victim that a serial killer had made while doing lord knows what. it may not have changed the person’s mind and of course that’s fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they were never quite the same again for having listened to it.

      i can’t even begin to imagine what these families go through and i pray that someday no one will have to experience that.

    • Michael Goi says:

      Thank you for this extremely thoughtful and well-worded response, Jess. It has now been five years since I made “Megan Is Missing,” and I continue to get responses from young people all over the world who tell me that the movie has made them more aware of the depths to which sociopathic individuals on the internet will go to attract a victim. Information and education must prevail.

  6. ashley says:

    can anyone tell me where on earth to watch it???~without downloading

  7. SnoopyWoW says:

    Worst movie I have ever seen.. disturbing,, && if you must watch, it is on Netflix or Tube+

  8. Greg says:

    Definitely a “see it once” movie but I liked it. I’ve always been more of a “disturbing” and it could “actually happen” movie fan as opposed to the Jason’s and Freddy Kreugers. Those are simply fantasy movies in my opinion. The fact that most people don’t like movies like this is that it is simply too real and too disturbing. That is why there are sequels to those other corny movies and movies like “Megan is Missing” are few and far between. The majority of movie watchers can’t handle them. Granted, there are many things that can be criticized about this movie as far as the acting and the girls magically see other on a computer screen whenever they are talking but the realness of the horrific things that happen are pretty spot on. Another movie in this genre that I would recommend is “The Girl Next Door” which is actually loosely based on a true story. But if “disturbing” is not your cup of tea don’t watch it. Maybe check out Jason Lives or something like that instead:)

  9. mary says:

    This movie is very disturbing. I was very upset while watching the whole thing. I would reccomend anyone with a daughter who likes to meet men online to make them watch this movie if it doesnt change their mind nothing will

  10. LAURA says:

    MOST UPSETTING MOVIE IVE SEEN, COULDNT SLEEP THE NIGHT I SAW IT,
    HAD TO TAKE A SEDATIVE

  11. cageybird says:

    It actually made me angry watching this film. Angry at the film-makers and the incessant culture of fear they are promoting.
    I find it very hard to understand why people are saying that this was such an ‘important’ film.
    This was exploitation cinema at its worst – dressed up with a ‘message’.
    I love horror. And I love films which have something to say about the society we live in.
    However I cannot stand films / TV / news opinion columns / anything that constantly tells me that we all, (but women in particular) should be living our lives in a state of fear.
    Statistically your daughters have more chance of being killed by a vehicle than being tortured and murdered by someone they met online. They have more chance of dying from drugs, or indeed more chance of dying at the hands of the lowlife boys at the party in the film.
    They are even statistically more likely to be killed or abused by a family member than anyone else.
    So please, Mr Goi, ramming your ‘shock horror’ fear-laden flick down my throat under the guise of teaching me something just won’t work..
    If you want to make torture p*rn, then at least be honest about it. Hostel has more integrity than this film because at least it wasn’t pretending to be anything else.

    I just don’t believe in the premise. I’m not saying it never happens – of course it does, but I find it very irresponsible of the film-makers to continue to perpetuate this culture of fear in the world.

    It made me angry and sad to think of all the people using this film as a yardstick to judge the rest of humanity by.

    • Marlene says:

      I do understand where your coming from, however, this happens so much more than you know. I personally know of 2 children who have met adults online and their parents fortunately went through their cell phones to discover the adults trying to lure them out, as well as, a relative of mine met a guy online and when she went to dinner with him, he kidnapped her, took her to multiple hotels and prostituted her out for 2 weeks. If it wasn’t for her seeing a chance to run when she had to beg to go use the bathroom who knows what would have happened to her. This happens so often that you ave no idea!

  12. liz says:

    wow ! i just got done watchin this movie and i must say that is very messed up ! im only 15 n like i can tell ya i could tell how scared they were n this move made me mad n sad and my sisters boyfreind even cryed. so yea is a one time movie thing for sure .

  13. Josh says:

    Hi my name is Josh,I enjoyed the film, feel frre to E-mail me if you want to chat.

  14. Jon says:

    Excellent review. I watched the film 2 days ago and clearly i am still intrigued by it hence the comment. The only other thing I’ve seen that is this brutal is “The Girl Next Door” about Silvia Marie likens. The Girl next Door was in a way comforting because so much research is available on the Likens murder that most of the unbearable things to watch didn’t actually happen (blowtorch, rape, etc.) not to say what really happened to her was not unimaginably evil, but at least I know the film was “hollywooded” up a little. I’ve been trying to research the actual case files that Michael Goi based this film off to compare the accuracy and I can’t find anything. I know he didn’t make up any scenes but it would still be nice to see what really happened if his goal is to, in fact, make people aware.

    About the film, Megan Is Missing; There is a time and place for everything, and there is no time or place to show the rape of a 13 year old girl. Some things you just don’t do and if you are, there needs to be a warning of some sort. Much like The Girl next Door, these films are classified as horror when they are NOT HORROR FILMS. They are True Crime reenactments. i did enjoy the film and the accuracy of Goi’s portrayal of teenage life was astounding. I went to parties exactly like that when I was 15 and that was 1995! he captured the parental unawareness to the T.

    lastly, in my opinion, the picture of Megan bound on the table would have been sufficient. There needed to be some video footage but the footage should have been just 5 minutes of him digging the grave while Amy begs to prove a point, that would have been enough to shock. here is why; i believe that letting the audience see what happened but not letting them see what happened (hence the picture) is enough. it is too easy for people to become desensitized to these things and showing them in such a lifelike manor actually hinders the overall point, which is to make the audience aware of the atrocity and take action, but not demoralize them to the point they feel helpless which is what i felt after watching this. Either way, the film was well made and many thanks to goi for bringing something important to the table.

  15. David Phelps says:

    The movie was a huge shocker… Im a huge horror fan, and I havnt been so shocked in a long time, scared the shit out of me at the end, my palms were sweating.

  16. james. says:

    Shocking film don’t think.a wil sleep the nite after Watchin that

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