Night of the Missing IMDB description: “A secretive small town sheriff gets a visit from a mysterious woman who recounts bizarre stories involving MISSING persons.”
When I saw a new horror movie with a Christmas setting had just been released, I jumped at the chance to check it out. So, let’s dig in!
Review of Night of the Missing
Night of the Missing begins promisingly. The camera glides over a small town to swelling orchestral music. On a quiet suburban street, we see a parked police car, which, disturbingly, has a bloody handprint on the window.
As the radio dispatcher desperately tries to contact the car’s occupant, we see more blood inside the vehicle and assume the worst. However, the female cop soon answers the call, confirming she is OK.
She then comments that everything is ‘under wraps’…which is when we cut to a body in the back of the car, wrapped in plastic. The officer then calmly drives away. It’s a simple, effective way to establish the basic premise: this sheriff is a serial killer.
The action then moves to the officer’s darkened, eerily lit police station (where the alternate title Nightmare at Precinct 84 begins to make more sense). As lightning flashes outside, we focus in on a large wall full of missing person posters. A disheveled woman then bursts in, looking for the sheriff.
As the officer sits down to take the woman’s statement, the wall of posters draws the stranger’s attention, and she begins to tell strange stories of what happened to the missing. It’s here where the film reveals itself as a horror anthology.
Well Shot But Otherwise a Let-down
As the mysterious woman begins to spin her tales, the arrogant police officer gradually begins to lose her cool. But it’s not entirely clear why, because none of the stories have anything to do with the sheriff’s dark secret.
The first segment, about a treat-loving little boy who gets lured outside by a sinister ice cream van, is certainly creepy and visually impressive. In, fact, the whole film is very well-shot and the cinematography is moody and atmospheric throughout.
Unfortunately, the movie feels more amateurish as it goes on. The 2nd and 3rd segments are intriguing concepts, but woefully underdeveloped.
The 4th segment, the longest by far, is the most cliché and uninteresting, and some of the acting approaches The Room level of bad. And the film climaxes with a pretty lame ending that doesn’t really explain or resolve much of anything that has come before.
Perhaps the worst offense Night of Missing commits is that it was billed as a Christmas horror film, but barely contains any trappings of the festive season. Only the framing story is explicitly set at Christmas, and even then you otherwise wouldn’t guess if it weren’t for a tree and some lights in the corner of a couple of shots.
Total score: 4/10
Night of the Missing (2023): Worth Watching?
Not really, Night of Missing starts out intriguing enough but peaks early. Despite some ace cinematography and memorable imagery, the film is marred by bad acting, poor storytelling, and a failure to tie all the disparate parts together.
Night of the Missing (2023)
Written by Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Matthew Hersh