New Review: Megan is Missing (2011)
Director: Michael Goi
Cast: Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Kara Wang, Jael Elizabeth Steinmeyer, Brittany Hingle, Dean Waite
Megan is Missing is a rancid piece of trash, a sadistic, ugly, cold-hearted toilet stain of a movie that pretends to have its viewers best interest in mind. You see, the movie wants to be read as a cautionary tale about the dangers the Internet poses for young teenage girls, and how they make themselves easy targets for sexual predators by venturing onto Internet chat sites. This is not the first movie to tackle this subject matter, and it certainly wasn't the last. There was a very well-acted movie called Trust released the same year, and it was handled with sensitivity and sincerity. Megan is Missing is straight-up exploitation, with a final 22 minutes that's so evil and cruel that calling it disgusting would be an understatement.
The movie focuses on 14-year old girls Amy Herman (Amber Perkins, who looks like Elizabeth Olsen's kid sister) and Megan Stewart (Rachel Quinn). Although they're best buds, the two girls are as different as night and day. Megan is a out-going, popular, and sex-crazed. Amy is shy, innocent, and bullied by her peers (they call her "chubby" and "fat" a lot, and to look at her, I started wondering if those kids know what those two words mean). Bad things start to happen after Megan meets a surfer dude named Josh online. He flirts with Megan for a while, until he suggests that they finally meet up behind the local diner. "Sure," Megan tells him. "I trust you." I'd like to think a girl in that position would ask, "What's wrong with meeting inside the diner?"
Prior to the girls meeting Josh, we're treated to a number of disgusting, horribly acted, and atrociously scripted scenes of the teenagers living out their lives. This includes the two friends laughing at Megan's story of when she was 10, and at summer camp, and was forced to give a 17 year counselor a blow job. The dialogue is so explicit that I felt sick to my stomach just listening to it. Then, there's a lovely scene where a drunken Amy vomits on two girls making out. That these two scenes are the least appalling non-horror moments in the movie is really saying something.
As for the horror scenes themselves, they're just plain sick. The movie actually brings to mind those movies from the 80s that were labeled Women in Danger flicks by Siskel and Ebert, in which basically the primary purpose of the movies was to exploit scenes where women are raped, brutalized, and degraded. All of those things happens in Megan is Missing, and what makes this movie worse than a film like I Spit on Your Grave is that the victims here are basically children. Yes, the actresses in the movie are in their early 20's, but they certainly don't look like it. They actually look 14, so when we get a needlessly protracted scene where one of them is raped, it sickens in more ways than one.
There is not a moment of this movie that rings true. Perkins and Quinn are really quite terrible as the main characters, although given the material they've been given to work with, you really can't blame them. They seem like nice kids. I'm sure they're very talented, and I would like for them to be given the chance to show their talent in another better movie, and one that didn't misuse them so horribly. Perkins, in particular, has a depressing scene where she's stripped to her undergarments, and is made to eat food out of a bowl like a dog, lest her tormentor rip to shreds her beloved teddy bear.
The final "22 minutes" of the movie are some of the worst I've ever seen. A good ten minutes of it consists of the killer digging a hole for his future victim, whom he has stuffed inside a barrel. We hear her crying and begging for her life, and then he pushes the barrel in the hole and fills it up with dirt, silencing her forever. Everything is captured on a video camera, which the killer apparently dumped in a public garbage can for the police to find. Maybe this idiot wants to get caught. His face might not be seen on video, but there are several instances where it's clear the guy isn't wearing any gloves. (Fingerprints! Hello!)
For the longest time, I considered the detestable 2005 horror movie Chaos to be the worst movie that I'd ever seen. Not anymore. Megan is Missing goes places that even the worst "no stars" movies are smart enough to avoid (even Sabotage didn't make me feel this crappy). There is nothing noble or important about this movie. It may focus on serious and very relevant issues, but it does so in such a shallow and careless way that the results are positively ghastly. Actually, calling the movie ghastly doesn't even begin to scatch the surface. This is a dirty, filthy movie, and I feel unclean just writing about it.
Someone online asked what naysayers were expecting from a movie like this. How about a film that gave us characters we could believe in, that treated its subject matter in a thoughtful and intelligent way, and that didn't miscalculate with clippings from a show called "My Child is Missing" that play out as satire? I also read somewhere that there are some parents who show their children this movie as an educational tool. While this is something that parents should discuss with their children, I'd like to think that showing them a movie like this would be considered as a form of child abuse.
(Note: The movie opens by claiming to be "based on actual events." I have no doubt there are real-life cases similar to this one, and if so, this movie does the victims of such crimes a huge disservice.)
Not Rated, but contains disturbing violent content (including the sexual assault of a minor), graphic sexual content, lots of profanity, drug use, teenage drinking. There's enough here to warrant an NC-17, although given how stupid the people at the MPAA have been lately, it probably would have gotten a PG-13 had it been rated.
Final Grade: NEGATIVE FOUR STARS (out of ****)