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New approach to 'Missing Child' suffers from low budget and energy

Frozen in time on the side of a milk carton, kidnapped children never seem to grow up. But what happens to those who do? The thriller "Missing Child" takes on this aftermath, with several twists up its sleeve.

Troubled Gia (Kristen Ruhlin) has had a rough go of it, raised in abusive foster homes and falling in with seedy, rapacious men. She's trying to focus on her education and future. At the same time, her much older boyfriend, Joe, is trying to link Gia to files of missing children, trying to find one who just might be her, 20 years ago. With a promising lead, they seek out a man, Henry (Charles Gorgano), who might be Gia's father, with the expectation of a family life or a reward. But after so much time has passed, everyone is wary, suspicious and has more veiled intentions and skeletons in the closet than meet the eye.

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Writer-director Luke Sabis brings some interesting ideas to the well-known genre, exploring the nuances of abuse, spirituality and redemption. Unfortunately, the low-budget execution shows on screen, with a dim and dismal look, and the energy is decidedly lethargic. Shrinking violet Gia is passive, timid, afraid to break free from the men in her life, who are cheesy, predatory stereotypes. She doesn't show enough of herself to inspire any sympathy, and it's hard to root for her when her behavior is so erratic. While the approach is a different take on the tale, the realization falls flat.

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"Missing Child."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills.

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