In which the common theme is missing persons. Specifically, missing children.
Who Took Johnny, like The Imposter several years before it, lays out every parent’s worst nightmare: the unexplained disappearance of a child. Johnny Gosch was abducted in 1982 while delivering newspapers. He was one of the first missing persons featured in a milk carton campaign.
As in the earlier documentary, Who Took Johnny pulls back from a child’s vanishing to present even darker issues. It’s implied, and later confirmed, that Johnny’s parents are no longer together. The focus shifts away from the investigation of the disappearance and settles on Johnny’s mother Noreen Gosch. She emerges as a person of conflicting motivations. She presents pictures from magazines of a young boy bound in ropes and is certain beyond doubt that it is her son. Then she reveals that Johnny came to visit her at home one night, several years after his abduction. I couldn’t help thinking that this woman’s story was so similar to tales of UFO visitation. A missing son appears instead of ETs; ‘proof’ that is rock solid for the person involved, but impossible to corroborate. A loss of contact with reality? An attempt to grab fresh media attention? Or is Johnny’s mother telling the truth, unlikely though it may be? There’s no clear answer.
H. was a more remote movie. Strange events unfold in the snowbound town of Troy: a meteor crashes nearby, people vanish, and strange injuries appear without cause. But the environment is off-kilter even before the falling rock passes overhead.
WTF is it with those weird dolls? This is not a movie that explains much. The widespread childlessness echoed Children Of Men from 2006. Also, a movie from the early 70s called ZPG used robots as child substitutes. Helen, the middle aged lady of Troy, is so well adjusted to her mechanical bub that she’s downright scary. Then she holds a party and the damn house is full of women who have their own little robot anklebiters. Paralleling the older Helen is a young Helen, who is convinced she’s pregnant. Medical advice says otherwise.
A boy disappears; a meteor appears. Each event throws a light on disturbing scenes. H. is not likely to show up at your local cinema any time soon, but Who Took Johnny is on youtube.