Is Megan is Missing a true story? The real life inspiration for the 2011 horror movie - and why it's trending on TikTok
Megan is Missing was banned in New Zealand, where the public release of the film was judged to be ‘injurious to the public good’
A horror film once banned around the world has found a resurgence through social media platform TikTok.
Megan Is Missing is nearly a decade old, but has recently found fame through the platform after a number of high profile users watched it for the first time.
The film deals with the horrors of social media and internet culture, and its creator has warned first-time viewers not to watch the movie alone in the middle of the night.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is Megan is Missing?
Megan Is Missing is a 2011 psychological horror film.
It was written and directed by Michael Goi, who has since gone on to write and direct episodes of American Horror Story and Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
The film – which is shot in a found footage style similar to that of Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project – was highly controversial at the time of its release. It was actually filmed five years prior to its theatrical release, but struggled to find a distributor.
Megan is Missing was banned in New Zealand, where the country’s Office of Film and Literature Classification said the public release of the film would be “injurious to the public good”.
The film was also panned by critics, not just for its poor acting (the majority of the cast were inexperienced or first-time actors), but also for the graphic violence enacted upon its child protagonists, its exploitative nature and the oversexualisation of teenagers.
Is Megan Is Missing a true story?
Despite its horror film trappings, Megan Is Missing was actually marketed as an educational film that could help viewers understand the risks to which children and young adults are exposed online.
It tells the story of the disappearance of Megan Stewart, a popular high school student in North Hollywood who decides to meet up with a boy she has met online.
According to its promotional materials, Megan Is Missing is “assembled from video chats, webcam footage, home videos and news reports,” but while the film was based on a series of real life cases of child abduction, the footage in the film is all scripted and shot using actors.
“I didn’t get to give you the customary warnings that I used to give people before they watched Megan Is Missing," said Goi in his own TikTok response to the film’s reemergence.
"Do not watch the movie in the middle of the night, do not watch the movie alone,” said the director
"If you see the words 'photo number one' pop up on your screen, you have about four seconds to shut off the movie if you’re already kind of freaking out before you start seeing things that maybe you don’t want to see.”
Why are TikTok users talking about it?
It's not entirely clear why the film has begun trending again in recent days.
The raised awareness of the film likely comes in the wake of a number of high-profile TikTok users making posts about their experiences watching the film for the first time.
"I have never been more triggered or traumatised by something in my entire life,” one viewer wrote. “This world is so f***ing disgusting, I can’t stop crying and I feel sick to my stomach. If you haven’t watched it yet, please don’t. It’s horrifying.”
Another user said the film had them “staring at the wall and wanting to delete all my social media accounts and never come back ever again.”
Another poster described the film as “absolutely horrible and repugnant,” and warned viewers not to watch it without reading its Wikipedia page first; “Wouldn’t recommend ever.”
How bad is it?
According to IMDb’s Parents Guide for the film, Megan Is Missing is “extremely intense and hard to watch.”
It features “sex scenes and discussions with actresses playing underage girls”, including a rape scene which “is very intense and drawn out."
"This movie has serious subject matter, and should not be seen by people who are easily upset by films.”
How can I watch Megan Is Missing?
At the time of writing, Megan Is Missing does not appear to be readily available through streaming sites in the UK, and probably with good reason.