Is the 2023 movie Missing based on a true story?

By Marc Miller
Published: January 23, 2023 (Last updated: January 4, 2024)

Is the 2023 movie Missing based on a true story? This article will contain significant spoilers as we discuss what the film is based on. 

Where some thrillers back in the day operated in the found footage genre, like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, the new film Missing (2023) is a “screen life” movie. This specific genre of filmmaking tells a “visual story where all the events are shown on a computer, tablet or smartphone screen” that has become popular over the past decade. The film opened strong this past weekend, making 9.3 million dollars against just a 7 million dollar budget.

Is the 2023 movie Missing based on a true story? 

What is the Missing movie about?

The official synopsis of the film Missing on the Sony Pictures website says of the film:

“From the minds behind Searching comes Missing, a thrilling roller-coaster mystery that makes you wonder how well you know those closest to you. When her mother (Nia Long) disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend, June’s (Storm Reid) search for answers is hindered by international red tape. Stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find her before it’s too late. But as she digs deeper, her digital sleuthing raises more questions than answers…and when June unravels secrets about her mom, she discovers that she never really knew her at all.”

Is Missing a true story?

The 2023 movie Missing is not a true story. There is a book called Missing: A True Story of a Childhood Lost by Marine Grundman, but this film has nothing to do with that work. The acclaimed 1982 Jack Lemon film Missing was nominated for four Academy Awards. Those accolades include Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek), and Best Adapted Screenplay. However, this 2023 version is not a remake. That was the true story of the disappearance of American journalist Charles Horman in the aftermath of the 1973 Chilean coup.

And while Columbia has an excessively high kidnapping rate in the country — for every 100,000 people, 0.6 people are taken per year — Missing is not based on those situations. (It could, of course, be an “inspiration” for those events). The film Missing is not based on a true story but on the mind of Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian. They directed and wrote 2018’s surprise Hitchcockian hit, Searching. That film starred John Cho, and the story followed his character’s efforts to locate his missing daughter.

Is Missing a good movie?

The Rotten Tomatoes consensus for Missing (2023) says:

“Missing can strain credulity in its efforts to keep the audience guessing, but a fast pace and relatable fears keep this twisty techno-thriller from completely losing its way.”

Here at Ready Steady Cut, M.N. Miller calls the film:

“Anxiety-ridden and armrest-grabbing, Missing is the type of old-fashioned thriller that trades star power for a good story that audiences are clamoring for.”

The Movie Mom’s Nell Minow says Missing:

“…builds lightly on the original but is very much its own treat of a twisty thriller.”

However, the New York Times’s Amy Nicholson contends that Missing:

“It’s not exactly riveting to watch June download and install WhatsApp so that she can video call Colombia. Yet, there’s some pleasure in a brains-over-brawn quest that flatters us to fancy that we might be clever enough to solve it ourselves.”

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