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  • Rev Horror

Night of the Missing

Dir. Samuel Gonzalez Jr. (2023)

A mysterious woman comes to a police station at night with stories about all of the missing people in the posters on the wall.

Anthology films are a dime a dozen and usually worth just about that much. Unless you're specifically a fan of the genre, most anthology films contain a couple of good (or decent) stories and a few stinkers, and I've decried that fact on many of my anthology reviews in the past. While Bloody Disgusting's new Night of the Missing doesn't feel like it completely breaks out of that box, it's still got some fantastic stories, some excellent scares, and is exactly the type of interesting premise that lends itself to a good collection of stories with a wraparound to hold it all together.

The wraparound of the film, which entails a mysterious woman inside of a police station telling stories about the people in the missing posters on the wall, is more of an avenue in which to tell those stories than it is a standalone short. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it doesn't particularly harm the film here either. The stories within, however, are really inventive, blending avant garde/artistic horror, creepy clowns, and even true crime and supernatural elements into something that approaches brilliance. At the very least, you've never seen anything quite like it.

We've got a fantastic short at the beginning, reminiscent of Drew Daywalt's horror shorts from Youtube, in which a little boy finds ice cream in a ridiculously scary ice cream truck parked outside his house. Despite its short length, this was the most impactful piece of the film to me. It's creepy as hell, pretty disturbing, and has some outstandingly frightening visuals. Ice cream trucks always seemed to be the perfect vehicle from which to abduct children, and it sure gets worked out in this one.

The rest of the shorts aren't quite as good but are still pretty creepily done films. The second short is about a phone sex operator who is being harassed by her client. It's creatively shot, and while the story as a whole is a little lackluster, it's got some heart to it that most anthology shorts are missing. The third short, about a woman stuck in a miniature model town, is actually pretty well done as well. It doesn't feel like a full story, but the visuals are creepy and I found myself wanting to hear more about what was going on. It's a miss that felt like it could've been an entire film in its own right, but its inclusion in an anthology film prevents further exploration. Finally, the film wraps up with a story about a man who must fulfill his promise to his dead girlfriend whether he wants to or not. This one was probably the best done of the film, the most complete of the shorts and one that handles all of its elements well.

Critically, Night of the Missing not amazing. The acting was wooden at times, the script is decent but nothing to write home about, and the cinematography, while adequate and creative, is clearly of the indie variety. Most of these pieces of the film are good enough, though, and none of them serve to take away from the overall impact of the film. The stories, however, are actually pretty damn good, and let's be honest: that's really all that matters in the end. While Night of the Missing is far from the best anthology film and probably won't be appreciated by all audiences, it's entertaining and inventive and is well worth a watch. It's also loosely Christmas themed, which makes it one you should check out for the holidays.

Who this movie is for: Anthology horror lovers, Short horror fans, The Center for Missing and Exploited Adults

Bottom line: Night of the Missing feels like a movie in two halves: the first half is interesting and visionary while the second fails to completely fulfill that vision. It's got some decent shorts, though, and while it doesn't feel like a film that will be a critical success, it'll definitely find its fans. It's streaming 11/28 on Screambox, and if you're a fan of anthology films (or even short horror), this one might scratch that holiday itch.

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