‘Missing’ Is a Brilliant, Dark Story About Mystery and Death

Ulises Duenas


Watching foreign films is an interesting experience because it shows how other cultures handle different genres. From Italian-made westerns to Chinese action thrillers, these movies offer bold, refreshing takes on what could be a tired formula.


Missing is a fascinating Japanese mystery movie that stands out due to its intriguing twists and turns, and dark plot. By the end of the film, I was left feeling a strange mix of emotions and I was completely engrossed in the interesting story.


Santoshi is a newly widowed father going through depression and dealing with debt as he tries to keep his daughter Kaede happy and in school. After telling his daughter that he plans to track down a serial killer for the reward money, Santoshi vanishes, leaving Kaede to investigate what happened to him. The first quarter of the movie has an almost lighthearted tone as Kaede does her best to find leads on her father’s whereabouts, but things get dark quickly after she has a confrontation with the serial killer. Missing handles its premise well and offers twists that were surprising without undermining the plot.


One minor flaw in the first half of the movie is that Kaede’s classmate joins her in tracking down her dad, but his character doesn’t really add much to the storyline. The three most important characters are Santoshi, Kaede, and the serial killer, and while they’re all portrayed very well with solid acting, there’s a lack of interesting side characters to help move things along. 


Once the twists ramp up around halfway through the movie, viewers will start to wonder where the plot will end up. Seeing events from different perspectives creates lingering questions that are eventually answered, and I like how the movie’s ending wrapped things up while also leaving a bittersweet feeling that Western movies rarely achieve. 


The film ends up feeling dark and depressing after a while, but it does not push things to a gratuitous degree. Missing doesn’t want to revel in how depraved or depressing its plot is, but to juxtapose it with normal life and happiness --  and that’s what makes this film so effective. Kaede’s character becomes a lone light in a dark story, and the film’s ending reflects this perfectly.


Foreign films usually offer a unique perspective, and the best ones show why experiencing stories from outside our usual bubble is worthwhile. Missing is a mystery-drama that doesn’t betray its own plot and characters with needless twists or supernatural elements, and the end result is one of the best mystery movies I’ve seen in a long time.


The film will also be on VOD on all major platforms in the US and Canada on November 18 and on Blu-ray on December 6.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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