Spotlight: ‘Missing’ Updates the Digital Thriller Genre

Parents might want to think twice before complaining that teens spend too much time staring at their phones. After all, some social media know-how could come in handy one day.

That’s certainly the case in “Missing,” the follow-up to the 2018 film “Searching.” “Missing” hit U.S. theaters on Jan. 20 and follows teenager June Allen (Storm Reid), whose mother, Grace (Nia Long), vanishes while on vacation with a new boyfriend (Ken Leung) in Colombia. Stuck stateside but armed with social media apps, an emergency cash supply, and a solid internet connection, June sets out to find the truth about what happened to her mom. With help from her best friend Veena (Megan Suri) and FBI Agent Park (Daniel Henney), June soon learns that her mother’s disappearance is more complicated than she could have ever imagined. “Missing”’s story comes from Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, who also collaborated to write “Searching.”

Like “Searching,” all action in “Missing” takes place exclusively on phone, computer, and even smartwatch screens. In a recent interview with Character Media, Reid noted that although the filming process differed significantly from that of a more traditional movie set, she enjoyed the challenging experience. “I had never done a film like this, with so many different technical aspects and having everything filmed through a computer, a watch, or a telephone,” Reid said. “It was a little strange to get used to at first, but once I got over the technical hurdles I had an amazing time.”

Aside from its technical feats, “Missing” is a must-watch for any thriller fans. Chaganty said that eagle-eyed viewers might even catch some hints at what happened to the characters in “Searching” and “Run” (2020), as all films take place within the same universe. “Anyone who’s seen ‘Searching,’ anyone who’s going to see ‘Missing,’ knows that this movie is full of Easter eggs,” said Chaganty. “You don’t just make this movie; you make nine other movies that are happening on the sides and on Google tabs and news articles. There’s literally 95 other movies happening simultaneous to the main events of ‘Missing.’”

For more, watch our interviews with Reid, Suri, Henney, and Chaganty above. Then, head to theaters to catch “Missing” and unravel the mystery yourself!