Saturday, June 27, 2020

We Are the Missing

Directed by Andrew J.D. Robinson.
2020. Not Rated, 83 minutes.
Cast: Maissa Houri, Mark Templin, Willow Mcgregor, Eleonora Poutilova, Gabrielle Banville, Olivia Piercey, Katherine Stella Duncan, Chantel Little

A documentary is being made about the disappearance of a young woman named Riley (Little). Her parents, Angie (Houri) and John (Madison) give multiple interviews. Her close friend Mackenzie (Macgregor) does the same. They all detail some strange behavior by Riley and give thoughts on various suspects in Riley's disappearance. It soon becomes apparent that something is amiss in the town of D'arcadia.

Movies shot in a documentary style have to have actors who really sell it. There is no one in the cast whom I've seen in anything else. I'm not even sure how many are professional actors and how many are friends and/or colleagues of the director just lending him a helping hand. Regardless of which, these performers sell it for all their worth. Across the board, they deliver earnest performances that never give up the ruse. Not being an actor, myself, I've always imagined it to be more difficult working in monologue than dialogue. However, these guys make me rethink that. Each is just sitting in front of a camera pouring their heart out and conveying the fear necessary to keep us engaged. The one place where it gets wonky is that some of the news reports don't feel as polished as they should. Aside from that, they do a phenomenal job. I'm very curious to know how much of what is said by these actors was written and how much, if any, did they improvise. Either way, it works. I just want to give credit where it's due. If it was written, then Andrew J. D. Robinson, who writes and directs, deserves tons of praise for what he did with his pen. If improvised, give it up for these actors for using their own imaginations on the fly to push the film as far as possible.

Even if the actors are to credit for words of their characters, Robinson still earns kudos for the way the story unfolds. It starts as local as possible, focused on a single woman. It expands its scope slowly and steadily. Before long, the whole of D'arcadia is in play. The film doesn't quite do it flawlessly, however. As it drifts away from Riley we actually forget about her until late when the movie itself reminds us of her. That said, the film makes up for it by continuing to build dread. The best and most harrowing scene is the first "hide" sequence. It's still just people talking to the camera, but their line delivery, including some grave faces, is perfect. They carry this through to a second "hide" sequence. In totality, this stretch is the highlight of the film. All of it is aided by some great use of music. It is ominous and well-timed, aiding the actors, and the film as a whole.

While Robinson's writing and overall story-telling shines, he over directed his first full-length feature in some spots. It shows up in the areas of the film transitioning from one interview to the next. The film seems unable to refrain from putting up title cards explaining what the next topic will be. At least half of them are unnecessary and show a lack of trust in the audience. Another issue is the transition shots. This seems to partially be a budgetary issue as we get a lot of what appears to be stock footage. As a collective, they're so generic that D'arcadia never develops a real sense of place. At first, we think it's small town USA, but as the story expands, it feels like it's a mighty metropolis. This works if you take the leap from D'arcadia to the real world the way the film wants you to, but it can take us out of the movie because it purports to tell us of a troubled town, without ever giving us the town.

I briefly mentioned the budget, but I feel it needs more of the spotlight. According to its imdb page, the film cost $300 to make. Just $300. No "m" or "k" following the number. With that mind, it's an impressive feat just to be completed, let alone coming across as well as it does. It also takes advantage of its plight. By that, I mean that it's been in the works for a couple of years, but was retooled in the wake of what's going on in the world as of the date of publication. The result is a horror movie directly addressing the situation many of us find ourselves in today. While it gives us a didactic ending, another instance of not fully trusting the audience, it is still to be commended for telling a slow-burn story that reels you in and pertains to all of us.

To the best of my knowledge, the film is only available on YouTube. You may watch it below.


  1. I'm not sure if I'll see this though my mother has found a lot of things including films from Latin American countries on YouTube which she prefers more than Netflix.

    1. It's worth a look and gets out of your way in less than 90 minutes.

  2. This sounds really interesting, thanks for linking it. I'll definitely check it out and see what $300.00 gets you film wise.

    1. And most of its budget went towards uber fare, bus tickets, and catering <3

    2. Cool. I hope this can be an "indie gem."