Directed by Vlad Feier, Still Here is a movie inspired by true events about a ten-year-old African-American girl Monique Watson, who goes missing in the streets of New York City. The police have little or no concern about the situation, leaving her father, Michael Watson (Maurice McRae), devastated. With no other choice, Michael teams up with Christian Baker (Johnny Whitworth), the journalist from The Chronicle assigned to Monique Watson's story. With time running out and a decrease in the public interest, Michael Watson and Christian Baker race to discover the truth and find Monique before it’s too late.
“Hmmm, so you think you’ve seen it all right? Until the moment you realize that you’ve seen nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I’m not talking about seeing through your eyes but through your soul. You think you know everything, right? Until. Exactly, Until the moment you realize you don’t know anything…”
-A quote from Micheal Watson at the beginning of the movie.
Still Here begins with an upset and worried father, Michael Watson, putting up missing-person flyers of his 10-year-old daughter Monique Watson (Zariah Singletary) in the New York City neighborhood where they reside. At this point in the story, Monique has been missing for eight days. Michael is getting increasingly overwhelmed because the police are unconcerned and haven’t made any progress in the investigation.
Michael, who works as a mechanic in his neighborhood, can be seen in a support group for parents airing their depressing situations. There’s a scene of him in the support group meeting where he’s frustrated. As some support group members take turns talking about their depressing problems, you can hear Michael's mind speaking out loud during the support group meeting, such as “What am I doing here?” Michael can’t take any more of it, so he suddenly gets up in the middle of the meeting and announces, “[t]his ain’t right,” before storming out.
While Michael is going around in the neighborhood, looking for his daughter Monique and distributing the missing-person flyers, Michael’s wife Tiffany (Afton Williamson) is equally distressed and depressed. She has become so depressed that she can barely leave the apartment where she and Michael live with their young son Andre (Jared Kemp), who has stopped going to school because the disappearance of Monique (his younger sister) has caused him to have panic attacks. Tiffany is seen crying near a candle-lit room that is dedicated to Monique.
Next, we see Christian Baker, a young journalist working for a daily newspaper, The Chronicle, in New York. Christian can be seen telling his boss Jerry Hoffman (Larry Pine), that he does not want to cover a charity event and wants hard news. Christian thinks that easy pieces such as charity events are beneath his skill level, and he’s bored with the assignments he’s been getting lately. Jerry lets Christian know he has not been delivering for too long and is walking a thin line. Jerry then gave Christian an assignment which he did. This led to Jerry telling Christian about the disappearance of Monique Watson, making it known to him that the cops are not interested as it involves a poor black family in a poor black neighborhood.
Christian takes the assignment and then goes into the neighborhood where the Watson family resides. He finds it challenging to locate and then meets a guy, Reggie (Leopold Manswell), who appears to be the leader of a group. Reggie can immediately tell that Christian isn’t street-smart at all. Reggie takes full advantage of his ignorance. He tells Christian that the only way he'll give up the location of the Watson family is if Christian pays him. Christian then gives him $100, just for Reggie to point to the building where the Watson family lives.
Michael didn’t welcome Christian, telling him to get out of the apartment if he really wanted to help. Christian then goes outside and tries to get some more information from Reggie, who is still hanging out in the same place with his friends. Christian had to trade his wrist watch for more information, which proved useless, costing an innocent taxi driver his life.
After extensive searchings and uncoverings by Christian and the police, Monique was later found on the top floor of the apartment in which her family resides. She had been kept there for six weeks by a teenage boy, Marcus (he fed and did the necessary things to keep her alive), who lives opposite the Watson family. Marcus takes advantage of young girls, and Monique is also a victim.
Still Here, in a nutshell, is a movie that sheds more light on missing women and girls in America. In a world of various pandemics, racism, joblessness, and many more, one can easily neglect the reports and news about missing people, which is a significant societal issue. “According to the FBI’s National crime information center, there are a total of 465,676 active missing person records. I am calling to improve measures to search for missing children. This is not just a police department's responsibility. It is the peoples' responsibility…” words from Christian at the end of the movie, making it known that this aspect of society should not be neglected. It also requires the cooperation of everyone in society because no one knows who will go missing next. It might be someone close to you. So watch out, be careful, and be ready to lend a helping hand.
About the author: My name is Franklin Ifeanyi. I am someone who likes to help people; I hope to do that with writing.