Megan Is Missing is a 2011 found-footage horror film directed by Michael Goi and starring Amber Perkins and Rachel Quinn. Due to its depictions of sexual violence against teenage girls, the film was a source of controversy upon release. In November 2020, the film became a viral topic on TikTok, where people speculated on the verisimilitude of the film discussed their experiences watching the movie. Megan Is Missing is a fictional account of a girls’ abduction and murder told in the “found footage” style of filmmaking, using personal photography devices, such as cameraphones and webcams, to guide the film’s narrative.
Shot in 2006, Megan Is Missing did not find distribution until 2011. Anchor Bay released the film on DVD. On May 3rd, 2011, YouTuber gotohelltown4 shared the film’s trailer. The post received more than 1.4 million views in less than 10 years (shown below).
Ban in New Zealand
On June 23rd, 2012, the Office of Film & Literature Classification released their annual report and effectively banned Megan Is Missing in New Zealand. The report classifies the film as “objectionable,” calling the work “strongly prurient and exploitative.” They write:
The DVD is classified as objectionable. The feature depicts sexual violence and sexual conduct involving young people to such an extent and degree, and in such a manner, that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.
Megan Is Missing is a DVD containing a United States horror feature, a behind-the-scenes segment, a face-to-camera interview, a trailer for the feature and notices. The feature, Megan Is Missing, is comprised of faux “found footage” (mobile phone, hand-held video camera, television news reports and internet chatroom footage) and follows about eight weeks in the lives of two girls aged 13 and 14 years which culminates in their abduction and murder by an
online predator. Although an attempt has been made to present the material in the context of a cautionary tale, and there is additional interview footage that puts forward the notion that the feature could raise awareness of the vulnerability of teenage girls to sexual predators, the feature’s material is strongly prurient and exploitative. The film relishes the spectacle of one girl’s ordeal including a 3-minute real-time rape scene.
The film received largely negative reviews upon its release. The website Bloody Good Horror gave the film one-and-a-half stars. They wrote:
Megan is Missing, written and directed by Michael Choi, is a horror film that wants so desperately to be something more. It wants to be an exposé of today’s youth in America and a wake-up call to parents. It wants to be an important statement about our society and the risks inherent in young girls having too much exposure to the Internet and too little supervision…
I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. Megan is Missing is just another exploitation film, and not a very good one at that. It’s a dull after-school special followed by about 20 minutes of A Serbian Film.
In November 2020, the film saw a resurgence of popularity on TikTok. On November 13th, 2020, Tiktoker @adriana.10.38 shared her reaction to the film. The video went viral on the site, receiving more than 3 million views, 500,000 reactions and 20,000 comments in less than one week (shown below, left).
The following day, TikToker @aleigh.ander posted a reaction to the film that received more than 11 million views, 2.3 million reactions and 74,000 comments in less than one week (Shown below, right).
On November 15th, the film’s director Michael Goi posted a video on TikTok about the response to the movie on TikTok. He said, “I didn’t get to give you the customary warnings that I used to give people before they watched Megan Is Missing. They are: do not watch the movie in the middle of the night, do not watch the movie alone, and if you see the words ‘Photo Number one’ pop up on your screen, you have about four seconds to shut off the movie, if you’re already freaking out before you start seeing things that maybe you don’t want to see.” “Photo number one” refers to a staged photograph shown in the film that features a particularly graphic image.
Several media outlets covered the resurgence of the film, including EW, USA Today, Decider and more.
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