Short and smart thriller for the online age
David Kim (John Cho) desperately traces the digital footstep of his missing teenage daughter.
Like Taken but with social media right?
However, this is all filmed from the perspective of Cho’s character surfing the internet with calls, facetime and his activity as he searches his daughter’s hidden social media accounts. The found footage element of this film feels very of the time, and nothing feels particularly jarring, it’s all just a natural use of social media, and there’s an excellent use of direction (would you call it that, editing maybe?)
I didn’t necessarily dislike the “filmed through screens” motif throughout the movie I just felt the movie was simultaneously defined and confined by its concept. (I never said this review was going to make any sense!)
The story and the background story, especially in the beginning with the story of Margot’s mother Pam, playing out beautifully through pictures, calendar and other online devices. I think for a relatively short film we don’t usually get this level of backstory and it’s executed beautifully.
However, as the film progresses and we realise Margot Kim is missing we’re stuck with this one perspective, and sometimes this becomes frustrating as an audience member as we have plot points explained to us- usually by newscasters. I think this is probably my main frustration with films like this such as Unfriended and Megan is Missing where we’re delivered plot points secondhand.
Unlike Megan is Missing, of which this film shares similarities (girl goes missing, and it’s all filmed found footage computer style.) However, maybe it’s because we live in a more technological infused society then we did seven years ago, or perhaps it’s because Searching spends a lot of time getting to us to invest in these characters and the internet sites are all real and well-defined places we know from going there ourselves.
I think the use of social media profiles to define the characters. It’s all natural, from the way characters act when they know they are on camera to the way people react to events such as a disappearance on social media (there’s even a Reddit shoutout which I thought was clever.) The most substantial element of the through a screen element in the definition of the missing daughter- Margot- thoughts and feelings are unfurled as her dad investigates what was going on with her.
John Cho is also fantastic in this movie, and as he’s driving the full force of the story and as a lot of the story relies on his natural reactions he plays the missing dad perfectly. Stoic and intelligent but also irrational and desperate you were complete with him for every response.
And the guy who plays his brother is a bright light within the film as well. I was kind of disappointed with Debra Messing’s character as I don’t feel like she was as complex as the rest of the cast.
Storywise this is a psychological thriller, if you like a well-executed plot with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing then this is for you. If you’re here for a complicated thriller with action and gore, then look somewhere else.
This is an unquestionable tight story and enjoyable hour and a half (I think if it’d come out on Netflix it would have received a lot more attention), but this isn’t a wasted trip