Megan Is Missing (2011)
Megan Stewart, 14, and her best friend Amy Herman, 13, though opposites in personality, are best friends. Megan carries the front of being the most popular girl in school, but this masks a lifestyle of hard partying, drugs, alcohol and indiscriminate sex. Amy, unpopular and socially awkward, clings to her relationship with Megan as a lifeline to social acceptance. Together, these two young girls forge a deep friendship based on their mutual needs. The two girls regularly communicate by web chat cameras or cell phone, and even meet boys online. As Megan seeks friends who are different from her usual posse of hanger-ons, she is introduced by a friend online to a 17 year-old boy named Josh in a chat room. Megan and Josh bond quickly, leaving Amy feeling a bit left out. One day, Megan goes to meet Josh in person, and she is never seen again. Amy launches into a concentrated effort to find her friend. As the media swirls around the story of Megan's disappearance, Amy discovers the horrifying truth about what happened to her friend. Based on research into seven actual cases of child abduction, MEGAN IS MISSING is an uncompromising, gut-wrenching view of the world children live in today. Harrowing in its realism, the film uses only fact-based incidences to depict the lives of ordinary kids walking in the midst of extraordinary evil.
Two teenage girls encounter an Internet child predator.
- Megan is Missing begins with a simple video caption on black screen declaring that the movie is based on actual events from actual missing-children cases. (It should be noted, however, that the movie itself and all scenes there in, are fictitious and performed by the actors.)
Switch to Megan Stewart (Rachel Quinn) and Amy Herman (Amber Perkins) together in Amy's bedroom, doing an ad-lib performance together for Amy's new video camera. Megan and Amy are the best of friends, almost like sisters. The screen freezes and a caption appears saying that Megan disappeared without a trace on January 14, 2007, and that Amy followed suit three weeks later. A second caption claims that the film was assembled using cell phone logs, computer files, home videos and public news reports.
A title screen appears, and then a caption giving the date as January 2, 2007.
Amy and Megan are together in a coffee shop frequented by members of their high school. As Megan's laptop captures video footage, Megan and Amy commiserate about having to return to school the day after New Year's, though it quickly switches to Amy's virginity, something she is sensitive about. The scene shows that Megan is a social butterfly and popular in her class, while Amy is a quiet, semi-timid and decidedly unpopular girl with virtually no friends outside of Megan.
Caption: January 4, 2007:
Megan is in her bedroom, and a caption lists her name, her birthdate (August 12, 1992) and her age during the time of the video recording (14 years old). Megan is at her laptop in her room having a video conference with her friend Angie (Carolina Sabate), discussing a supply of drugs Angie had just gotten from another student named Tercel. Both Megan and Angie have bought drugs from this Tercel, paying for them with sexual favors. Angie mentions that she and her boyfriend, Gideon (Trigve Hagen), who is with her at the moment, are attending a party later that evening.
The conversation is interrupted by Megan's mother, Joyce Stewart (April Stewart), who is outraged that her TV program didn't record because Megan unplugged the VCR to use her game box and forgot the plug it back in when she was finished. Joyce is shown to be a loud, shrewish woman who treats Megan badly and makes the girl feel unloved, even screaming that Megan should go live with her father and get out of Joyce's life. So incensed is Joyce at missing her TV show that she takes a hammer and smashes Megan's game box while Angie and Gideon laugh in disbelief at Joyce's outrageous antics.
Megan gets another video call and switches to it. Amy is inviting her to hang out together at the local mall, or any other places Megan might prefer. Unfortunately, Megan has to stay home tonight and help her mother with some things.
Switching back to Angie and Gideon, Megan is reluctantly enticed to come over to their house and "play with them" in return for a small packet of the drugs.
Caption: January 5, 2007:
Amy is getting ready for school. A caption lists her name, her date of birth (January 10, 1993), and her date at the time of the recording (13 years old).
Amy's parents, Bill and Louise Herman (John K. Frazier, Tammy Klein) comes into her room to talk about the planned party they're intending to throw for Amy's 14th birthday, only a week away. Bill was looking to host it at a particular place that Amy liked, but she says she's starting to feel too old for it. The scene quickly reveals that Amy's parents are very loving and dote on her, in direct contrast to Megan's parents, who are divorced and provide her with none of the parental love and support she still very much needs. After they leave, Amy looks at her face in her mirror again and sighs. Bill had called her 'Princess' in a loving way, but Amy feels that to the rest of the kids in the neighborhood, she's more like 'Princess Pudgy.'
Later that day, Megan receives a cell phonecall from an acquaintance named Ben (Rudy Galvan) while hanging out at the coffee shop with her friends Lexie (Jael Elizabeth Steinmeyer) and Kathy (Kara Wang). Ben is hosting a party that weekend and is calling to invite the three along. Both alcohol and drugs will be freely available. Lexie, Kathy and Ben are all stunned when Megan insists on bringing Amy with her to the party; Lexie and Kathy going so far as to politely excuse themselves. Ben is furious at the idea of Amy attending the party, but Megan doesn't back down. The scene shows that Megan is sufficiently 'in demand' in the student party scene that she has the influence to open doors that would otherwise be closed to Amy.
By now, the friendship between Megan and Amy is also shown to be one that fulfills both of their strongest needs: Megan gives Amy access to peer social events that she would otherwise be shut out of, while Amy gives Megan a confidante that soothes and comforts her in light of the horrible way she's treated by her mother.
Caption: January 6, 2007:
Ben's party. Outside of Ben and Gideon, the party is almost all girls. Each has to pay $10 for entry or else provide a sexual favor
The teens dance to glaringly loud rock music, drink, smoke pot and do cocaine. Amy listens to the music and holds a beer bottle in her hands but drinks sparingly and doesn't dance, feeling awkward about it. Some of the girls get tipsy enough to dance close together, and Ben spends time making his moves on whoever will receive them. Megan in particular doesn't care for Ben's advances. Kathy, on the other hand, enjoys feeling 'wasted.' Even Amy starts to get tipsy from drinking, but pushes Gideon away when he starts to grope her while one of Ben's friends films it. Gideon slaps Amy hard across her face for her trouble. Humiliated and crying, Amy goes looking for Megan, only to find her on her knees in front of Ben, performing fellatio on him. Megan is severely embarrassed at being seen by Amy.
Near the end of the party, Amy slumps against a stairway banister, not feeling well after drinking most of the night. At the foot of the stairs, Lexie is coaxed into snorting a little coke and slowly french-kissing another girl while Ben films it. Amy suddenly throws up on the two girls, much to Lexie's total outrage and disgust, but to the delight of the other boys who hoot up about Amy being drunk.
Late that night, Megan and Amy comfort each other via video conference. Megan admits that she doesn't particularly care for most of the other students, despite her popularity among them, and Amy is her only real friend. She amuses Amy with a story of how she did fellatio at age ten on a 17-year-old camp counselor; a conversation that's rudely interrupted by Joyce, who demands that Megan turn her computer off and go to sleep. Megan, embarrassed, tells Amy she desperately wants to get away from her mother and they talk briefly about running away together to Texas before ending the call to go to sleep.
Caption: January 10, 2007; Amy's 14th birthday:
The first scene in the movie, Amy and Megan doing an ad-lib for Amy's new video camera (shown to be a birthday present). More of the scene is shown as they ad-lib a mock interview of their respective life stories. Megan goes first, and her bubbly demeanor suddenly turns quiet and sad as she talks about her family. Her voice is sarcastic as she 'claims' her mother loves her, and she doesn't know where her father lives or what he does for a living... and her stepfather, Paul, is in prison for raping Amy repeatedly over a two-year period starting when she was nine. Megan says that Joyce was so frightened of losing Paul that she blames Megan for his going to prison and this is likely one reason for Joyce's abominable treatment of her. Megan finishes by saying that boys like her and she provides them any favors they want, but insists that they pretend to love her-- even though she knows it's fake and in her opinion, pathetic. Amy hugs Megan comfortingly, and Megan is seen to take real solace in it.
Caption: January 13, 2007:
Megan and Lexie are video chatting. Lexie tells Megan about a young man named Josh that she's met online. Josh is a skateboarder and attends Tolland high school, and he took notice of Lexie's internet profile because she listed skateboarding as an interest, even though she doesn't know how to ride a skateboard (guys dig it when girls are into skateboarding, Lexie tells Megan). Lexie tells Megan that Josh's online handle is 'skaterdude.' Megan does a search on the handle and a photo of Josh is shown, with a caption saying that Megan downloaded the photo and it was later found on her computer. Lexie mentions that Josh's little brother accidentally broke his laptop's webcam, and tells Megan that Josh met George Clooney at a mall and talked to him once. She innocently suggests that Megan instant-message Josh some time, and Megan says that maybe she will later.
Amy is shown making a video diary entry. She points her video camera all around her room, showing her stuffed animals, and says that her favorite teddy bear is named Billy, but she doesn'st have him anymore. She points the cam at a picture of Amy and Megan together. She takes her camera all around her house, describing some of it in the diary entry, saying she lives in Sherman Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles. She 'introduces' her mother (who slyly suggests that Amy SHOULD be doing her homework while Louise is making dinner) and the family cat (who Amy says is older than her in real years, which makes him over 100 in 'cat years') on the diary entry, and says that her father works long hours and isn't at home as much as he'd like, but always makes sure to come home for important events.
Megan makes contact with Josh (Dean Waite) online. He tells her a little about his skateboarding and that the teachers at his school 'suck.' Megan says they also suck at her school, which she names as Alton; Josh recognizes the name and says that he doesn't live far away. He tells her he practices boarding at a ravine behind a diner that Amy knows about and goes to often. Amy is briefly disturbed when Josh asks her to tilt her webcam down a little (she knows exactly why he's asking), but Josh apologizes and backs down, whereupon Megan obliges him, and he compliments her on her blouse. Megan mentions Josh's broken cam, and he says his dog chomped on it-- Lexie had told Megan that Josh's little brother broke it. Josh quickly says that both his brother and his dog did their share in breaking the cam. He is attending the party that Lexie had invited Megan to, and asks Megan if she's coming-- since Megan has seen his photo maybe they can hook up. Megan is unsure if she wants to go. There is some sardonic banter between the two of them before they finally sign off. After the call is ended, Megan suddenly rushes to her dresser and grabs a strappy black top and a denim skirt.
That evening Megan is walking to Tracy's house for the party and calls Amy on her laptop. She tells Amy that she decided at the very last minute to go the party after talking to a boy she met online.
Amy makes another video diary entry. She's looking through a teen magazine to find a nice prom dress in case a boy asks her to his when she's a senior in high school. Then she figures no boy is ever going to ask her to a prom and drops the F-bomb at her video camera before ending the diary entry.
Caption: January 14, 2007:
Amy calls Megan at 8 AM to see how the meeting with Josh went at the party. Megan says that Josh was a no-show; she waited four hours for him. She tells Amy Josh's name and calls him a jerk. Amy invites Megan to go to a movie with her after she's feeling more awake, and they end the call.
Josh contacts Megan online. Megan confronts Josh at his no-show at the party, but Josh insists he was there, and he proves it by accurately describing Megan's outfit, including the butterfly clip she wore in her hair. When Megan asks why he didn't come up to her, he gets embarrassed and says he kind of 'wimped out' when he saw how popular she was with the other teenagers. Megan finds this flattering and forgives Josh. She tells him that she's going to see a new Matt Damon movie with her best friend and drops a hint that Josh can come along. He gets a little shy but then bites at the offered bone and offers to get her some ice cream after the movie (he's a little shy about meeting Megan's friend).
Megan steps out of the house and calls Amy on her cell phone, and tells her why Josh didn't come up to her at the party. She finds him very sensitive and likes that about him. She tells him he's going to web her around 7:30 and offers to let Amy come with her.
Josh makes web contact with Megan after the movie, and Megan introduces Amy to Josh. The three talk briefly and Josh sends another picture of himself showing that he surfs as well as skateboards-- he says the current time of year is perfect for surfing because of water currents from Mexico (showing he knows a lot about the sport). Amy heads home and Megan and Josh agree to meet behind the diner. After they end the call, Megan quickly grabs up her purse, and the camera continues to show her empty room for half a minute after she walks out.
Caption: January 15, 2007:
Megan wasn't present at school, and Amy hasn't been able to reach her to find out how the date with Josh went. She becomes worried enough that she contacts Kathy and Lexie, both of whom are cold and curt in their reception of her, telling her only that they haven't talked to Megan either before quickly hanging up on Amy.
Amy webs Josh online to find out about Megan, and he gets a little concerned as he tells her that he was hoping to ask her the same thing; they were supposed to get together last night, but Megan never showed. He promises to web her if he hears from her.
Caption: January 17, 2007:
News anchor Callie Daniels (Lauren Leah Mitchell) reports on Megan's disappearance. The news broadcast is perfectly put together to grab at the heartstrings, including a portrayal of Megan's mother as frightened for Megan's welfare and praying for her safe return, and a reporter asking Kathy and Lexie about Megan, who they say simply didn't show for school all of a sudden. The news report goes into elaborate detail about Megan's life in her community and school, complete with the school principal, and Kathy and Lexie, giving all the magic words about Megan: popular, beautiful, role model, honor student, active in the community, everyone loves her. After finishing up the section on Megan, Callie Daniels gives a very short, brief summary about another missing child: a 13-year-old boy named Tercel Jackson, before going to commercial.
Caption: January 18, 2007:
Amy makes a late-night video diary entry where she talks about her worry over Megan, and that she doesn't believe that Megan ran away, as the news reporters speculate was possible. She says she can feel in her heart that Megan is still alive, and Amy is sleeping with her cell phone next to her pillow in the belief that Megan will call her at any time.
Caption: January 19, 2007:
News reporter Yvette Bartosik (the name of her character as well as the actress' real name) is reporting with a 'stunning update' on Megan's disappearance: Security camera footage from the diner reveals footage of Megan being seized. The footage shows Megan walking behind the diner when a man came up to her, grabbed her wrist and led her away. The footage is too grainy to show Josh's face or whether Megan resisted or tried to call for help.
The security camera footage is shown three times in slow-motion, with captions saying it is being shown first in original size, then enlarged 200%, and finally 500%. It is still impossible to tell if Megan was frightened at the moment she was grabbed, or what Josh looks like; although it can be seen that his hair is shorter, darker, and styled differently than in the picture that Lexie had sent Megan.
Caption: January 20, 2007:
Amy and Josh are talking online. Amy seems uncomfortable with Josh calling her 'cute girl,' even though he tries to assure her that he finds her attractive. She asks him plainly if he was the person in the security camera footage, and he says (amused) that that was 'some old dude.' Reading Amy's worry, Josh asks about Amy's friendship with Megan and learns how close they really are. Josh suddenly turns callous when he says he's surprised that Amy is the kind of girl that Megan would hang with; when she accepted his calling her attractive, he says, it meant she was stupid. Amy confronts Josh on her belief that he knows where Megan is, but he denies it. Josh's tone reveals his true colors as he rails on about how everyone perceives Amy; including, he claims, Megan. She again demands to know what he did with her, and he says, 'nothing she didn't do with 100 guys before.'
Caption: January 29, 2007:
A news report gives breaking new details in Megan's disappearance: Amy has gone to the police and told how Megan met a man named Josh online. The news report gives Josh's name, as well as his online handle of skaterdude. Amy is shown leaving the local station surrounded by her parents and police officers who fiercely protect her from the onslaught of media questions.
Caption: January 31, 2007:
Amy is making a video diary entry showing some of the places that she and Megan freuqnted together. As she passes the diner, Lexie and Kathy see her and walk up to confront her. Lexie becomes particularly emotional as she lambastes Amy over Megan's disappearance. Unable to deal with her guilt over having introduced Megan to Josh-- now the prime suspect in her disappearance-- Lexie becomes hysterical and starts to scream at Amy that she loved Megan as well and tries to pin Megan's disappearance on Amy.
Amy's video diary continues. She walks past a bridge that she and Megan often visited.She sets her laptop on the ground under the bridge and squats down in front of it, reminiscing about the adventures she and Megan shared. She turns to a niche in one of the bridge's supports and pulls out her favorite teddy bear, Billy, saying that she hid him here after Louise wanted Amy to get rid of Billy because he was growing old and ragged.
As she holds the teddy bear, a silhouette is seen appearing several yards behind Amy, on the other side of some foliage. The silhouette stays put and appears to eavesdrop as Amy talks about the whole experience making her not want to grow up and that she'd just rather stay there under the bridge holding Billy.
Caption: February 1, 2007:
Amy is on the internet when Josh makes contact to confront her on going to the police. He warns her that free internet screen names can easily be set up and discarded anywhere, at any time, meaning the police can't find him. He demands that Amy shut her mouth about him, threatening that he might have to 'visit' either her or her mother if she doesn't leave him be. Amy stares into her webcam, frightened, for half a minute before shutting her webcam off.
Caption: February 2, 2007:
A news report gives a detailed live-action re-enactment of the security camera footage showing Megan's abduction. The re-enactment has been filmed at the exact spot of her abduction and features commentary from the director and the actors playing Megan and Josh, speaking about the importance of spreading awareness on child safety. The actor playing Josh speaks about how hard it is playing the role of such a despicable internet child predator. The actress playing Megan talks about how the internet isn't as safe as people think, even when you're in your own home. The actual re-enactment footage ends with the Megan actress starting to scream for help as the Josh actor forces her into a white SUV and drives off with her.
A video caption says that on March 4, 2007, two photographs of a young girl later identified as Megan, were found posted on a fetish website's forums. The website owner contacted the FBI because of the graphic, disturbing nature of the photos showing what was clearly an underage girl. A second caption says that the photos have never been released to the public before.
The photos show a wooden table; the table's top is a pillory with openings to trap a person's neck and wrists. Megan is locked inside the device; her eyes wide and wild, her hair matted and disheveled. Built into the table-top pillory near the neck opening are metal hook braces that hold Megan's mouth wide open. A rubber band is slung over her head, ending in another metal hook that is lodged in her hostrils, pulling the base of her nose opward. Megan's fingers, hands, and knees are bloody, showing she's been tortured and abused, both physically and sexually.
Caption: February 4, 2007:
Amy makes another video diary entry under the bridge. She talks about how volunteers for the search for Megan are dwindling and people are losing hope she is still alive. Amy admits she isn't sure herself, anymore, if Megan is still alive. Needing solace, she turns to the niche to reach for Billy-- and a man's hand is seen reaching into the video camera view to seize her.
News anchor Callie Daniels gives an update on Megan's disapparance, reporting that Amy has vanished after having gone to the police with information on Josh. Police are concerned on the double disappearance but continue to look into 'all possibilities,' including that the two girls might have run away together.
Caption: February 6, 2007:
News reporter Yvette Bartosik reports on a pink ribbon campaign organized in the neighborhood where Megan and Amy live, in the hopes of the two girls being returned safely home. Even Lexie and Kathy are taking part in the campaign, although they carefully mention only that they'd like to see Megan return home safely. Amy's parents are shown thanking the volunteers for their search and praying for Amy's return.
A caption says that the following scene is a short piece of news footage not previously broadcast: Search workers are looking in trees just off a road. A worker tells the chief he's found something. The chief notices the reporter and sends another worker to make the reporter leave the scene.
Another caption says that on March 12, 2007, Amy's video camera was found in a trash bin in the Angeles National Forest. Photographs show the inside of the trash bin and then a zoom-in photo shows the camera visible among some trash, and finally a police detective holding the camera, placed in a plastic evidence bag, as he talks with search workers.
Another caption announces footage of a man believed to be 'Josh' as found on the camera. It shows the silhouette coming into view well behind Amy in her video diary entry from January 31. The view zooms in on the silhouette but cannot reveal any positive details about 'Josh.'
A caption says that the following scenes are the final 22 minutes of footage found on Amy's video camera after it was discovered; the footage is unedited and unaltered.
Amy is shown as 'Josh's' captive, stripped to her bra and panties, chained at the neck to a wall in a small, filthy cell that looks disturbingly like it was built for that very purpose. It is very dark, showing it to be underground or a sub-basement. The camera pans past a closed polypropylene-plastic barrel as 'Josh' goes to check on Amy. The terrified girl tearfully begs and pleads for mercy, for 'Josh' to let her go. He coldly tells her that Megan is here, but Amy can only see her when he says so. He tells her that Josh isn't his real name, and he douses her with a bucketful of dirty water.
More graphic scenes are shown of Amy as 'Josh's' captive. She is savagely and unmercifully tortured, raped and sodomized, passing out from the pain of it, and forced to completely debase and humiliate herself by kneeling on the floor and putting her hands behind her back, eating the food he's placed in front of her as a dog would-- she complies when 'Josh' dangles her teddy bear, Billy, in front of her. He gives it to her finally, and she huddles against the corner of her cell, cuddling the bear and crying.
Finally 'Josh' takes her out of her cell, talking sweetly to her about whether she'd like to go home. He tells her that he needs to put her in the barrel so she can't see where he lives. But when 'Josh' opens the barrel, Amy is horrified to find that it contains Megan's body. She screams in horror as 'Josh' forcefully stuffs her into the barrel and re-seals it.
A heartbreaking twelve-minute finale ensues revealing Amy's appalling fate: 'Josh' has taken her out into the woods and digs a hole to bury her alive. 'Josh' wordlessly digs as an increasingly desperate Amy professes to love him with all her heart and will submit herself completely to him if he lets her live. But finally the hole is completely dug and 'Josh' tips the barrel, rolling it to the bottom of the hole. Amy's soft and tearful pleas give way to hysterical shrieks for someone, anyone, to come and help her. 'Josh' says nothing as he buries her alive in the makeshift grave, finally picking up the flashlight and walking toward the break in the treeline, leaving Amy to die.
Megan and Amy are shown together on side-by-side missing-child posters. Megan's poster says that anyone having or wanting information should to to the website 'findmegan.com' (which leads to the website for the movie).
The end credits ensue among a video diary entry where Megan and Amy wistfully talk about what their future will be like when they grow up. At the end of the entry, Amy asks Megan if she thinks Amy will meet a man when they're grown up. Megan assures Amy that she will one day... and that they'll both "just know" when the right guy comes along.