Megan is Missing is an Oversensationalized Film, Here’s Why


Megan Is Missing (2011) Amber Perkins and Rachel Quinn in Megan Is Missing (2011) Credit: Trio Pictures

Chloe Hurd, Writer

There’s a constant question when it comes to Horror Films: how far is too far? Oftentimes directors of horror have a message they want to get across and aim to do so in the most gore-y way possible. Michal Goi did such, writing his first screenplay and eventual movie, Megan is Missing. The story was meant to display a warning sign to parents, to make them more aware of their child’s life online. But in the end, the movie was found by the teens Michal Goi sought to protect and became popular on Tik Tok. But why was this movie considered to be so profound? Was it really an intense film that mattered or was it a sensationalized mess of unnecessary torture?

Megan is Missing; My personal thoughts

 Going into this article, I will issue two warnings; one for spoilers and another for possible triggering content as this review will go into the sexual exploitation of children, abuse of drugs, and torture(not blatantly stated). Making this film, Michel Goi obviously had a lot on his plate trying to take in so many messages at once and portraying them as a competent film. This made the movie feel full and empty at the same time because honestly, the entire movie could have been shaved to half an hour of content in lieu of boring dialogue and bad acting.

 This movie is the epitome of “fake deep” content in which the director tries to portray an intellectual or PSA-type message and instead discredits themself with bland clichés. Michael Goi wrote, directed, edited, and co-produced Megan Is Missing, a 2011 American-found footage psychological horror film. The story follows Megan Stewart (Rachel Quinn), a popular high school student in North Hollywood who decides to meet up with a boy she had been talking with online, and her best friend, Amy Herman’s (Amber Perkins) eventual investigation into her abduction.  

After parts from the film were shared on TikTok in 2020, the film regained popularity. As numerous users labeled the film “traumatizing,” Goi issued public cautions to potential viewers.  It was dubbed “2011’s scariest horror picture” by Entertainment Weekly. In the DEG Watched at Home Top 20 Chart for the Week (Ending November 21, 2020), where the film ranked 6th.

Megan’s friends accuse Amy at random of being responsible for Megan’s disappearance, which is yet another bland and off-topic point. Megan is promiscuous as a result of childhood trauma and abusive home, which while sad, is a tired trope. It was as if Michael Goi couldn’t pass up the chance to throw in a cliché, even if it had little to do with the intended plot. 

Goi is best known for his work on a variety of television shows, most notably “American Horror Story,” “Glee,” and “Scream Queens.” Each of these shows is objectively “good” or “better than average,” which adds to my confusion around why “Megan is Missing” is so bad. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the last portion of the film, given the awful execution of the first 75%. Goi’s sloppy directing and cliché scripting did not hint at the possibility of a very horrific conclusion, but he did deliver. The truly “terrifying” parts, in my opinion, were amazingly imaginative and well thought out, at least compared to the rest of the movie. 

After the resurgence of the film’s popularity, Goi did release his standard warnings on Tik Tok that he usually would have given before a showing of the film: “Do not watch in the middle of the night, do not watch alone, and if your watching and already feeling uneasy at the movie, you have approximately four seconds to turn the film off after Photo 1. flashes on the screen.”


Looking online, I often saw mixed reviews. Some saw the movie as traumatizing and an unnecessary use of gore, while others thought the movie was borderline comedy between the bad acting and the unbelievable story. Rated a 3.5 out of 5 stars the movie is obviously not a favorite film with its questionable storylines.

 Looking on Rotten Tomatoes, a popular movie review site, a surprising amount of viewers think the movie is worth the watch. Yet, even in these positive reviews, the immaturity of the film shines through and leaves the watcher asking for more. Emma Wolfe says “Although Megan is missing is not a perfect film it does have some special qualities that make it stand out and I really enjoyed it.” Other reviewers took a harsher look at the work, “[The] Internet-dangers horror relies heavily on torture, and violence” says Monique Jones. Somewhere left deciphering message of the film, something Goi desperately wanted, Jeremy Heilman wrote, “Megan Is Missing is entirely convinced [me] of the terrors that lurk online and by the time it comes to its chilling conclusion most of its viewers will be as well.”

 Despite mixed reviews, online film scholar Alexandra Heller-Nikolas sums it up perfectly. “Goi’s motive was unquestionably positive — he’s a good guy who really wanted to save kids’ lives — but that didn’t stop Megan Is Missing from being dismissed as torture porn: ultimately, it still looks and feels like an exploitation film,” Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. Although the finale is brutal, which some may like, it feels exploitative despite being a thought-out scene. Overall I would rate this film a 3 out of 5 as it was one of Goi’s first times directing. And as Nikolas said he does have positive intentions which do contribute to the film’s early charm, bringing back the nostalgia of the early 2010s.