Wait, I take that back. It’s the “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2″ of Internet predator movies — in other words, a complete creative failure.
David Schwimmer recently tread these waters to far greater effect, but still emerging only semi-successful, with the melodrama “Trust.” Here, the only thing writer/director Michael Goi achieves is making Megan 100 percent repugnant from the start. You don’t care about her because he goes out of his way to present her as the kind of kid who probably deserves a good punch to knock her off her pedestal. Honestly, I was so sick of hearing her speak her petty, self-absorbed yapping, I couldn’t wait for her to go missing. This is amateurish trash disguised as an “important” message movie.
Although fictional, “Megan Is Missing” aims to deliver the currently in-vogue cinema-verite experience, where the entire thing is assembled through supposedly found footage, from camcorders and smartphones to surveillance tapes and newscasts, not to mention one photograph that comes off as a punch line, although that’s clearly not its intent. It doesn’t help that the movie is so poorly acted, it feels like a put-on. When we see a news report on actors re-creating an abduction, the meta mistakenly leaps to self-parody.
Up front, a title card tells us that 14-year-old Megan (Rachel Quinn) and her 13-year-old BFF, Amy (Amber Perkins), disappeared and never were seen from again. Therefore, there’s no suspense in the whole of the 85- minute feature. But there are dozens upon dozens of dull moments as the slutty, bratty Megan schools the nerdy wallflower Amy talk about school and parties and sex — mostly sex, but in details so graphic, you can’t show the film to the tween audience who might actually benefit from its cheap scare tactics.
After chatting online with a creepy, unseen, obviously older douchebag known to us — and them — only as “Josh,” Megan agrees to meet with him in public. He doesn’t show up the first time, but makes good the second go-round, and snatches her away. Weeks later, Amy suddenly vanishes, as well.
The last act shows the girls stripped to their skivvies in Josh’s dingy torture palace as they’re abused and raped to an unflinching camera. These scenes are supposed to shock, but they’re shot in such a sleazy way, I fear the Joshes of the world might actually get off on it. You can’t have it both ways; even the notorious “I Spit on Your Grave” looks subtle in comparison.
The entirety of “Megan Is Missing” is tough to watch — not because of its finger-pointing, “it could happen to you” approach, but because it’s simply dull. If you’ve ever wanted to see the feet of a guy as he uses a shovel to move dirt for nearly 12 minutes — and that’s no exaggeration — this is your movie.
Among the extras, Marc Klaas — father of Polly Klass, who was murdered at the age of 12 in 1993 — gives a five-minute speech. While I’m surprised Mr. Klaas would be involved with such a low-class, exploitative production, I’m not exactly sure as to why he is at all. Polly was kidnapped from within the supposed safety of her own home, from well before iChat, webcams and texts became everyday social tools; there’s no valid connection.
In a behind-the-scenes piece, Gio calls his own work “compelling” and “a warning.” Well, he’s half right: Don’t see this. —Rod Lott