Of late, there’s been a trend where cameras are being replaced as mediums of video capture, and in their stead, we’re using the latest communication techniques to film an entire movie. Starting with the 2020 horror film Host, where a Zoom call among friends goes horribly wrong, the arrival of communication technology has opened doors to several movies where stories are told through webcams and similar recording devices. These movies are the next generation in the found footage genre, and if made properly, some of them can be very impressive. Nicholas D. Johnson’s mystery thriller Missing is told entirely through the webcam and similar devices of the protagonist, June Allen (Storm Reid), capturing all her emotions when her mother, Grace, goes missing. Let’s look at June’s character and analyze how she realizes how deep her mother’s love truly was for her, despite all their arguments and fights.
To start off, teenage is unquestionably the age when children are at constant odds with their parents, and more so if it’s a single mom with an 18-year-old daughter. June Allen didn’t remember much about her childhood other than a faint memory of playing with her father, James, in her grandparents’ house when his nose started bleeding. This was the last memory June had of her father before he died of a brain tumor. It’s been 12 years since, and June is a young adult planning a rave week with her friends, unbeknownst to her mother, Grace, who’s going on a trip to Columbia with her boyfriend, Kevin.
June was often fighting with her mother, Grace, and she found her habit of using Siri for the simplest of tasks to be annoying, and to frustrate her further, Grace kept calling her “June-bug” even at 18 years old. Fed up with her mother constantly crowding her and leaving her repetitive voicemails, June tried avoiding and ignoring Grace whenever possible as the gap between them kept increasing. June’s dislike for her mother reached a boiling point when she learned that her mom would be in Columbia with her new boyfriend for Father’s Day. June has felt the absence of her father for the longest time, and in some ways, she blames Grace for bringing another man into their lives while June hasn’t gotten over missing James. With Kevin and Grace leaving for LAX and Kevin sending pictures to June because her mom’s phone isn’t working, June makes up her mind to party like there’s no tomorrow.
On Father’s Day, June drinks to forget the pain of missing her father and uploads a picture of him and her. The next morning, she’s to pick up Grace and Kevin from LAX, but hours go by, and they don’t show up. It’s from this point that we begin to see June’s technological acumen and her ability to come up with solutions at the drop of a hat. Grace and Kevin went missing, and neither country’s cops were able to find any trace of what became of these two Americans. Billions of people know how to use technology, but not everyone knows how to manipulate it to get what they want out of it; something that came easily to June. Failing to connect to Grace’s Gmail account, she got her friend Veena to impersonate Kevin to get the password to Kevin’s account, which she then used to unlock a lot of information hidden behind a protected wall. June’s ability to think on her feet and make quick decisions helped her connect with a Columbian man named Javier, who became her eyes in the Latin American country, and she quickly formed a friendship with him because of her kind-hearted nature. Despite all her anger towards her mom, June was a very kind and loving teen. From asking about Javier’s estranged son Carlos and motivating him to reach out to the young man to reporting and commenting on every post that targeted Grace as some criminal mastermind–June made kind nature obvious
A meticulous teen, June kept note of every new piece of information that she came across and even managed to access several websites and apps that are only known to the smartest of tech people. This thorough nature of sweeping through information got June to connect with a man named Jimmy, who was supposedly Kevin’s counselor after he was released from Eastham prison. When Kevin was killed in Columbia while trying to cross the border, the trail for Grace went cold. Left without options, Grace finally began listening to the voicemails her mom used to leave her. She looked with regret at the ‘like’ reaction she’d left to her mom’s “love you” before she’d left until something struck her.
June used the name Grace used to call her as her mom’s Gmail password and quickly opened the account to find an encrypted chatting app. When Kevin’s counselor, Jimmy showed up out of nowhere and revealed himself as James, June’s brain went haywire. James tried a lot to frame Grace, saying she had him jailed, but June, the smart young woman she is, figured out the scheme immediately. However, she was too late and was kidnapped and taken to the grandparents’ house, where James was already holding Grace hostage. Slowly but definitely, June understood that her mother made immense sacrifices to give her daughter a safe life. James, a drug addict, and serial domestic abuser was imprisoned after threatening to murder Grace, whose real name was Sarah, and she entered WITSEC with her daughter to keep her safe. In the final moments, as James tried strangling June, Sarah stabbed him in the neck with a shard of glass, with a bullet lodged in her. James locked them inside a room as Sarah bled out from the gunshot wound James left, and once again, June’s superb intellect came into play. She took a page out of her mom’s book and used Siri from her Apple watch, connected to her phone back at home, to call the cops and save her mom’s life.
The next time we meet the mother-daughter duo, June is studying abroad and coming home to meet Grace, and now the daughter’s wallpaper is of the two of them. June finally knows the suffering her mother once went through to give her daughter a good life, and she’ll spend the rest of her life letting her mother know how much she loves her.