The Apology (2022): Is the Movie Inspired by a Real Missing Person Case?

Written and directed by Alison Locke, Shudder’s ‘The Apology’ is a mystery thriller movie that revolves around Darlene and her ex-brother-in-law, Jack. Darlene is a mother whose daughter, Sally, went missing 20 years ago, but Darlene hopes to find her someday. As she prepares a Christmas meal for everyone, her sister’s former husband, Jack, knocks on her door. Jack wants to surprise everyone after 19 years and spend Christmas with the family. As the two reminisce on old times, Jack mentions Sally, and things take a dark turn.

The chamber film takes place only at Dalene’s home and comprises several classic tropes of the thriller genre. However, certain elements seem grounded in reality and add a layer of authenticity to the story. One such element is the disappearance of Darlene’s daughter, Sally. In real life, we encounter numerous abduction cases where the victim is missing for decades until any concrete information about them is found. With this in mind, the audience wonders if ‘The Apology’ is based on a true story. Well, allow us to appease your curiosity.

The Apology: A Blend of Reality and Fiction

‘The Apology’ is a fictional story. Alison Locke, the writer-director, had a dream wherein a man knocked on her door and said he knew what had happened to his daughter. The dream transformed into a full-fledged movie, marking Alison Locke’s debut as a feature film writer and director. In an interview with LRM Online, Locke explained how she has always been a fan of true crime, and reading stories within that genre led to her dream.

Interestingly, the movie’s protagonist Darlene also symbolizes Alison in real life. Although Alison’s daughter never went missing, she is autistic, and the director has always tried to spread awareness about the condition and fight for her daughter. While speaking with the outlet, she said, “As I wrote it, I realized that it was really becoming a metaphor for what it was like to take care of my daughter, who is autistic.” Locke elaborated, “I sort of related to these families, even obviously it’s night and day from what their experience must be like.” Alison found commonalities between her daughter and Darlene’s missing daughter in the small things and said that, in both cases, it is about being there for a loved one.

In another interview with Fandomize, Alison Locke expanded on the thought and said the idea was to portray a woman who feels like she’s done and is doing enough for her child. Alison refers to taking care of her daughter’s needs, which translates to Darlene, who wants to do everything she can to find her missing daughter. Interestingly, the director also wanted to portray how toxic masculinity plays a role in Darlene’s life and how Jack, as a character is delusional about everything that happened with Sally. The movie explores Jack’s disturbing mindset, conditioned by gender bias, and manifests in his actions and behavioral patterns.

Apart from the dream and the gender issues, Alison Locke also wanted to portray domestic life and has always wanted to tell stories about households. While speaking to Fandomize, she said, “Home life and domestic life in films; it’s not given enough weight. So that’s something I repeatedly write and make things about.” Overall, ‘The Apology’ is a fictional story that seems to be an amalgamation of the director’s dream and real-life subjects such as domestic life, true crime, and toxic masculinity.

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