Missing (2023)

Since Marvel, DC, Godzilla, Conjuring, Spider-Man, and others have their own cinematic universes these days, it should be no surprise that even the Screenlife genre is now gaining its own universe of sorts. It’s a brand of filmmaking where all of a film’s events are shown on the screen of a computer, tablet, or smart phone via FaceTime calls, texting in messenger apps, and the like.

Surprisingly, when done right, it can be a fascinating way to tell a story. Particularly in today’s technology-driven society. 2018’s Searching was a perfect example. In fact, the editors of that film, Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, who were integral to its success, write and direct a loose sequel to the film called Missing, a wild roller coaster of a mystery which utilizes the same visual language to tell the story of the disappearance of a young teenager’s mother while vacationing in Columbia.

"The most amazing thing about this method of storytelling is how fascinating it can be"

The film opens to a FaceTime conversation between 18-year-old June (Storm Reid, A Wrinkle in Time) and her mother, Grace (Nia Long, Big Momma’s House) who is tying up loose ends before heading out on a vacay with new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung). Naturally, the teen is paying little attention to the details of her mother’s instructions, as she has an alternate online conversation going on with friends who are setting up a party to pop off at June’s house as soon as Mom heads out.

June will come to regret her negligence when she discovers that her mom and Kevin never arrive back at the airport after their trip. With loads of international red tape, and little help from the Columbian government or American attachés, June tasks herself – along with the aid of a P.I.-for-hire named Javi (Joaquim de Almeida, Fast Five) – with searching for answers.

Being the savvy young teen she is, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to tackle the mystery. Before long, June, and the audience, are led down a twisty-turny rabbit hole of secrets and deceit. And we have a blast following the trail of breadcrumbs and red herrings.

Speaking of red herrings, there are a few in this amazing little tech thriller. And several outright twists, as well. Most you’ll see coming from a mile away, but there’s one big momentum changer I promise you won’t.Missing (2023)

The most amazing thing about this method of storytelling is how fascinating it can be to watch the film’s story play out on apps, websites, ring cameras, and computer screens. Credit goes to Merrick and Johnson who have cracked the code on keeping us engaged via such an impersonal medium. It doesn’t necessarily play out in real time, but we never see any of the action or actors directly in front of the camera. It’s all either on a computer or phone screen. And, at times, we might be watching one screen that is pointed at another.

The plot, though often preposterous with more holes than Swiss cheese, is surprisingly fast-paced and engaging while remaining fairly easy to keep up with. Missing though – pun intended – is the reality of wi-fi and cellular service deficiencies. As the clock ticks down on trying to uncover the mystery, we never once encounter a spinning beach ball or rotating hour glass. How’s that for preposterous?

It’s not all cold technology and gadgetry though. Merrick and Johnson bake into their story some nice themes about human connection and familial love. At the film’s center is a heartfelt story about family, longing, and dealing with regret. Many of the characters manage to punch through the screen of whatever device we are watching them on, and hit us with true personality and character. One such example comes when the heartbreak of June’s father’s death when she was a baby, is paralleled by the estrangement of Javi and his son.

There’s a high degree of difficulty in pulling off these "device films," and one wonders just how long the sub-genre will last. With Searching having already set a $75 million worldwide precedent, Missing has its work cut out. But for now, count me in. I’m learning how social media and technology can save my life.

3/5 stars


Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- March 28, 2023
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English; English SDH; French; Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Sony Pictures shows up with a nice little Blu-ray + Digital edition of its Screenlife thriller which includes a lot of extra features including a feature-length commentary track with the filmmakers.


This is a tough one. There's not a whole lot to say about the picture quality here, as all of the film's footage is meant to be second generation, shot from a computer, iPhone, or security camera screen. Imagery is purposefully rough, or digitized so it mimics the source material.

Even so, many scenes – particularly ones meant to mimic a large computer screen – are sharp and bright. There are moments of grain, digital noise, and extreme digitization, but again, the technique is purposeful.

We would be very surprised if the film is released on the 4K UHD format as it simply wouldn't benefit from the quality and resolution bump.


The same goes for the audio portion of the release. The blu-ray presentation comes with an admirable DTS-HD 5.1 MA track. There are some directional effects when a screen is shown from the side of the room, for instance, but all-in-all, it's simply not going to kick your system in the pants. Not the transfer's fault, just limitation due to the type of move Missing is.

Included are a French and English language Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks.


Here's where this release shines. Included are five bonus pieces totaling nearly 30 minutes, a handful of deleted scenes, and a captivating filmmakers' commentary. Fans of the film will appreciate this bonus material


  • Filmmaker Commentary with writers & directors Will Merrick and Nick Johnson and producer Natalie Qasabian

Special Features:

  • Hunting for the MISSING Easter Eggs

  • Deleted Scenes

  • Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes:

    • Storm Reid and the Challenge of MISSING

    • Misdirects, Online Crimes and the Social Media Mystery

    • The Screens that Rule Our Lives

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars


Film Details

Missing (2023)

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
111 mins
: Nicholas D. Johnson; Will Merrick
Nicholas D. Johnson; Will Merrick
Nia Long; Storm Reid; Ken Leung
: Drama | Thriller
No one disappears without a trace.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 3, 2023
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 28, 2023
Synopsis: After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online.


Missing (2023)