Why 2011’s Megan Is Lacking Was Trending on TikTok

In 2011, a disturbing found footage shocker called Megan Is Missing was released that was forgotten but recently went viral on TikTok.

In 2011, micro-budget shocker Megan Is Missing silently received a very limited theatrical release and then was forgotten. The horror film has been pretty much unknown since then, at least until November 2020 when it was trending on popular social media platform TikTok. The movie’s hashtag currently has over 400 million views and counts, with people trusting each other to watch the highly disturbing movie.

This isn’t the first time an unknown movie has achieved cult status, but may be one of the first times it has done so solely because of social media. Apparently overnight, the younger generation found the film on TikTok and couldn’t stop talking about it. Megan Is Missing was shot at a time before the streaming was huge, and an exploitative horror film to serve as a cautionary story was made at a time when making a haunted house was one of the only surefire ways to make money in the genre , not so marketable. Filmmaker Michael Goi has said that this film was originally intended as a wake-up call for parents, but a lack of proper distribution left this film virtually invisible. However, the audience Goi originally wanted turned out to be not his target audience, but rather teenagers who actually seem to have something to do with the characters’ lives.

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Megan Is Missing follows the exploits of fourteen year old Megan and her thirteen year old best friend Amy. Megan’s behavior is reckless because all she seems to be doing is drinking, partying, and hanging out with older boys. The film is shot in a personal found footage style where much of the cinematography appears to be done by the characters via webcam video and video chatting. This makes the events of the movie feel more authentic and everything becomes even more effective. Several TikTokkers have even stated that they believed the film was real footage and not a fictional story.

Megan tries to bring Amy with herself and her criminal friends, but Amy doesn’t fit into the crowd at all. However, Megan doesn’t seem to care what others think of Amy because she loves her very much. Regardless of what people say on social media, Megan Is Missing focuses on character development way beyond the shock value in the first two acts, and that’s what makes the last third so unforgettably disturbing.

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Megan soon meets the boy of her dreams, a 17-year-old skater named Josh, online. Not long after that, the title comes true and Megan goes missing. Instead of learning from her friend’s mistakes, Amy falls into Josh’s online trap and is eventually taken. The film is replete with false news describing the girl’s disappearance and further conveying that terrifying sense of authenticity. Then, for the final 20 minutes, the audience is subjected to brutal sexual violence and terrible torture that is not for the faint of heart.

In November, several videos with the hashtag #meganismissing will be published on TikTok. More and more people started getting wind of the movie because of the hugely successful app and started posting reaction videos in which many claimed they were completely “traumatized” by the movie. Soon the “Megan Is Missing Challenge” was trending across TikTok and the movie completely exploded. It was widely distributed in November and was named the sixth most popular film of the week of November 21st by DEG.

The sudden cult status that long-ignored Megan Is Missing has just achieved shows that social media has changed word of mouth in a big way. Instead of telling a person just a few of their friends about a shocking movie they couldn’t stop thinking about, social media stars can now grab their cell phone and let a million people know about the movie they just streamed. It also makes sense that Megan Is Missing is trending among Gen Z members. Many teenagers these days have such widespread access to the deepest corners of the internet and relate to this movie in ways that no one has had before. Now that we are so deeply connected as a society, any kind of content, no matter how dark, can find new life. In other words, if a movie banned in New Zealand for “torture porn” can become a hit, nothing should come as a surprise.

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About the author

Jon Mendelsohn
(61 articles published)

Jon Mendelsohn is a graduate of Ithaca College with a degree in film. He is a writer, filmmaker, and pop culture lover. When Jon isn’t writing or watching Netflix, he loves to travel and find the hottest foodie places.

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