Is Missing (2023) Based on a True Story?

‘Missing’ is a mystery thriller movie that marks Nick Johnson’s and Will Merrick’s directorial debut. It stars Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung, Amy Landecker, Daniel Henney, and Nia Long in the lead roles. The plot revolves around June Allen, a teenager who discovers that her mother has gone missing. As a result, she relies on her technology and social media knowledge to find her mother before it is too late.

The movie has a found footage format; the story is told almost entirely through various screens. Given the film’s raw and authentic portrayal of the characters’ struggle, viewers must wonder if it is based on actual incidents. If you are seeking details about the inspiration behind ‘Missing,’ here is everything you need to know!

Is Missing a True Story?

No, ‘Missing’ is not based on a true story. The film is a sequel to the 2018 film ‘Searching,’ which itself is a fictional story. However, the movie is a standalone sequel that follows the format of its predecessor yet focuses on largely original characters and conflict. It is based on a story by Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty. The duo previously collaborated to pen the screenplay for ‘Searching,’ with the latter taking the director’s chair.

However, for the standalone sequel, the duo created a story and entrusted Nick Johnson and Will Merrick, editors of ‘Searching’ to write a screenplay based on their story treatment. In an interview with Forbes, Ohanian, a producer on ‘Missing,’ explained that Sony Pictures called him and Chaganty to craft a follow-up to ‘Searching.’ Although, since they were busy with other projects, the duo could reprise the same duties as the first installment.

Therefore, the duo chose Johnson and Merrick to execute the project while serving as writers. “So we wrote a 29-page treatment for Missing from beginning to end, with all of the major beats, character arcs, and twists, and gave it to them to support their screenwriting and directorial debuts while we remained producers,” he said. In a separate interview, Chaganty revealed that Ohanian came up with the idea to flip the original’s premise by focusing on a teenager searching for their parent instead of the other way around.

As a result, the premise enabled the writers to explore new aspects of technology we use daily from the perspective of a teenager. In the same interview, Chaganty further stated that modern media frequently portrays technology in a negative light. Therefore, he wanted to explore the positive uses of technology in the movie. ‘Missing’ reportedly also has connections to Chaganty’s 2020 directorial film ‘Run.’

The makers wanted the film’s found footage aspect to look authentic. Hence, they experimented with various types of cameras and filming techniques to obtain the desired output. Furthermore, the movie is told entirely through the use of screens which adds a sense of familiarity to the visuals. Nevertheless, the film is firmly rooted in fiction and emulates the pattern of its predecessor. Likewise, it uses science fiction tropes such as Artificial Intelligence to further the narrative.

Ultimately, ‘Missing’ is not based on a true story. It tells a fictional tale carefully crafted to create an authentic feeling about the protagonist’s reliance on technology to locate their parent. Moreover, it relies on certain tropes of the found footage and missing person subgenres. Nonetheless, the visual depiction of modern technology, the internet, and social media allows the makers to add a semblance of reality to the story. The movie’s unique treatment conveys the sense of urgency necessary to elevate the thriller.

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