Almost 600,000 people go missing each year. This staggering number is limited to the United States. The other 194 countries have their separate numbers to report. Andrew J.D. Robinson’s first feature film emphasizes this matter, albeit in a mockumentary structure, with a sci-fi twist. ‘We Are The Missing,’ as the title suggests, is about the families of those who go missing.
Released on YouTube for free, you can watch it any time, at the comfort of your couch or your bed.
The film begins with the mystery related to the disappearance of one, Riley Madison. In a typical documentary style, the narrative intercuts between the interviews of Riley’s parents and some of her best friends. Through their recordings, we are told how Riley did not go to college one morning. She had her shoes and mobile in her room, and yet she was nowhere to be found.
As the film intensifies mystery around her disappearance, the story grows more significant by infusing eerie elements (no spoilers), such as astral attacks, and other similar sorts of stuff.
We Are The Missing is Both an Ambitious and Ambiguous Film
Produced for a mere 300 CAD (INR 18,000), We Are The Missing is one of the few well-meaning films you can find from Indie filmmakers. Its mockumentary structure makes sense once you understand the budget constraint. And for what it tries to achieve in its form is impressive.
The film encapsulates interesting ideas relating to human existence and kinship. The story is based in a fictitious town called D’arcadia. It serves as a good metaphor for the film’s important message, i.e., to not pity about something terrible that has happened to someone. Instead, to introspect the situation, for it can happen with you as well.
The film provides certain possibilities of why so many people disappear every year. The sci-fi element is genuinely contemplative, and the conclusion quite ambiguous. For a movie that begins as a murder mystery, and transmutes to a broader spectrum, is quite remarkable.
Besides, the amount of effort put behind making this film is visible. There are dozens of recordings that play out during the movie, indicating the vast number of actors the writer-director, Andrew J.D. Robinson, had to juggle with. You only wish he had hired a professional editor, too, to put together everything adequately.
The Film is Sluggishly Paced and Frequently Non-Engaging
After Disney’s Artemis Fowl, this is the most impatient I have felt watching a movie. We Are The Missing totally misses out on editing. Despite an interesting plot and the introspective twist that comes at the halfway mark, the film tests your patience. Even for a YouTube film, it is a terribly slow experience.
The entire running time of 80-minutes can be segmented into two halves of 40-minutes each. The first half is where you have to really endure. After a promising beginning, where the lead actors (Maissa Houri and Mark Templin) who play the missing girl’s parents, manage to hold your attention, the film becomes slow and consistently non-engaging.
Almost all the recordings that follow go on to the limit that you feel drawn out of the conversation. There are good bits to contemplate in each of the accounts, but there is no regularity. A better intercutting of the recordings, which happens after the 40-minute mark, could have made the beginning more endurable. And when I say endurable, I mean it by heart.
Fortunately, the twist arrives at the halfway mark, and from thereon, you feel more interested, and editing gets somewhat better. A variety of stock footage is used to fill the necessary gaps between the recordings. Though some of it is okay, most of it feels very weird.
Not to spoil anything, but the scenery that is shown to harmonize with the eerie context could have been replaced with organic footage. The background score, too, consists of stock audio that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.
In the first half, when the creepy elements haven’t prefaced, the director uses many dramatic sound effects to produce some sort of ominousness. As much out of place they seem, the primary purpose of using them appears to be justifying its YouTube title, which asserts ‘FULL HORROR MOVIE,’ which it clearly isn’t.
Nevertheless, We Are The Missing is a good attempt at making a thoughtful feature film. It has an interesting idea, is cleverly thought-out for a low-budget, but totally misses out on the editing, which, if had been done well, would have condensed it to from being a feature-film to what I call a long…short film.
You can give it a watch if mockumentaries appeal to you. For its sluggishness, you must not worry, for you can quickly skip ahead on YouTube, whenever the film begins to bore you.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
The director, Andrew J.D. Robinson, has previously made a variety of short films. Some of them are well-acclaimed for their uniqueness. You can watch them all here.