Four years later, David Kim used technology to find his missing daughter Searchingbrings audiences a new mystery thriller set exclusively on phone, computer and smartwatch screens. Missing is written and directed by Nick Johnson and Will Merrick in their feature directorial debut after previously serving as editors on Searching. If you were a fan of the twisted, unpredictable nature of the tech-savvy original, get ready for even more of that with this film, which tells a fresh, exciting mystery that will make your jaw drop.
This standalone sequel begins with a similar setup to the original, beginning with home videos of a young child with his parents before one of them succumbs to cancer. The main events take place in a single parent household, told through screens belonging to our protagonist, June Allen (Storm Reid). She is a rebellious teenage girl whose mother, Grace (Nia Long), travels to Colombia with her partner, Kevin (Ken Leung). With the house to herself and a week of partying later, June waits at the airport for her mother, who never shows up. With her mother gone in a country thousands of miles away, June uses the internet to research what happened to her.
With a film as fresh as Searching was in 2018, replicating that type of success was no easy task. A movie that Missing could have felt like a retread of the original with nothing new to offer. However, this film works in a way to compete with its predecessor. This is a surprising, relentless film that pulls no punches. Once Johnson and Merrick set up the mystery of a mother who disappeared, we’re locked in for a classic, well-told story that will keep you guessing from the first minute to the last.
Engaging and compelling in all the best ways, Missing effectively uses his computer screen medium to tell a thrilling mystery that unfolds in unexpected ways. You find out every revelation with June in real time, and as the twists and turns continue throughout the film, you find yourself questioning how you perceive each character. Every time a new suspect is introduced, you wonder if it’s the culprit, a red herring, or a red herring that will later be revealed to be the culprit. With this narrative, you never know who you can and can’t trust, creating an experience that will pull you to the edge of your seat, wondering what happens next.
The structure of the film is still very similar to the first film. With a premise involving a missing person and a family member using technology to find them, Missing can sometimes reuse story beats from the original. But given that we’re following new characters and story beats that will make you consistently reevaluate the narrative, you’re in for a well-constructed story that maximizes the use of tension at all the right moments. Reid’s performance anchors this film with emotional moments and a fierce determination that keeps you watching.
Everything builds up to an unexpectedly terrifying finale. The last act of Searching is primarily emotional, while the last 30 minutes of this film put June in physical danger. While the film doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, it comes closer than anyone could have imagined, with excellent performances, suspense and an editing process that must have been a nightmare to achieve. But that was no longer a concern for Johnson and Merrick, whose promotions from editors to writers/directors paid off in leagues.
Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 9 equals “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.