Sony/ Screen Gems’ latest, Searching, made me realize that I’m probably gonna be the protective parent because anytime a movie is centering around missing children, that’s gonna be my nightmare. And for Searching to be categorized as a movie shot in an unconventional way, it takes that original idea and keeps your mind on the screen until the end.
What’s the Story?: As being captured through the point-of-view of different laptops and smartphones, recently widowed father David Kim (John Cho) is trying to find the answers to what caused his 16-year-old daughter Margot Kim (Michelle La) to be missing.
Searching is one of those movies that I didn’t even know it had its premiere at Sundance. As time passes, it actually sounded like a premise that could be inventive. This isn’t the first time Timur Bekmambetov has produced a movie with it filmed entirely through computers; he also produced the low-budget Unfriended (just fine) a few years ago. With the surprisingly good buzz surrounding Searching, it’s no secret that this is a well-done thriller that makes you question what’s going to happen at the end, even if it’s nothing new we haven’t seen before.
This happens to be Aneesh Chaganty first time directing along with co-writing the script with Sev Ohanian. When thinking about how the entire film is shown through computer screens and news footage, some might think it might come off as pathetic. But it honestly felt authentic when we see David going through Margot’s information and with the help of Debra Messing’s Detective Rosemary Vick, who’s assigned to the case. The purpose of its storytelling is to make it urgent and almost relevant to what he needs to do when searching missing people in the world today.
The kinds of questions are to be thought of throughout: Where is Margot? Is she alive? What might’ve happened to her when David trying calling him? Is she kidnapped? etc.
The technology angle that’s the primary focus in Searching surprisingly worked as it didn’t feel like a gimmick from the setup to where it doesn’t leave the screen at any point, which is still pretty creative. Tapping through Facebook, emails, Youtube, and many others, it puts the audience into perspective when discovering clues that might be linked to Margot and helps us remember later on. Even so, the beginning kind of made me emotional and got me attached to the family to already be established within the first five minutes.
John Cho has always been one of the most underrated actors working in Hollywood today. Though he’s always been known for the Harold and Kumar and Star Trek franchises, sometimes it’s never enough for him. In here, he gives an outstanding performance for this sympathetic father whose main objective throughout this investigation is wondering her Margot is. This also begs to notice that he doesn’t know anything about her daughter at all. He should really do more roles in dramas like this.
It leaves you with certain twists and turns that I personally didn’t see coming, and it didn’t ruin the movie without saying what happens. Almost throughout the movie, it was kind of hard figuring out where the line ends with this mystery.
If there were two movies that could easily describe what Searching reminded me of, it would like a combination of Prisoners and Unfriended, though not scary. And that’s what you get. This seems to be a new genre starting up because of the how popular Searching will become later on, and it can work under certain genres and not just horror movies to where it can serve as a temporary replacement for found footage. Searching isn’t one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, but a good one at best, and it’s good enough to end August.
Searching’s premise could’ve been lazy from the start, but it’s an engaging and investing thriller that’s unpredictably tense with a phenomenal performance from John Cho.