A quick overview: Searching is about the mysterious disappearance of a sixteen-year-old girl named Margot Kim (Michelle La) with almost no traces of where she is. We follow her widowed father David Kim (John Cho) as he looks through her laptop in hopes that he can find out where she could have gone and how this happened.
What follows is a thrilling, tension-inducing mystery, utilizing the computer POV perfectly to convey the story and its message.
The ‘found footage’ era of films kind of came and went. It may have some great films such as The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Chronicle, but over the past couple of years, it has become rather stale. At first glance, Searching may seem like that generic missing person drama with the gimmick of it all being from the point of view of a computer screen, like Unfriended. However, both are wildly different in its story and how it chooses to convey it.
This is an incredibly strong mystery with countless twists as you find out more and more about Margot. Where she could she have gone; what was she thinking; what she was feeling, are all questions you will keep asking yourself about Margot. She’s a teenager who has grown up with the internet and social media her entire life. Interestingly, there is a nice commentary on social media as we see how it has an effect on how people perceive certain things and how they’ll react with it when situations arise.
What helps elevate this film is the fantastic acting of John Cho as David. He pulls off the intensity of a father who might have lost his only daughter and is trying everything he can to find her – even if this means dealing with the possibility that she doesn’t really love him. You see the anger, sadness and frustrations, but also the loving and caring emotions of being a dad. There are several scenes where you would tear up for him as you see the desperation of a father and the lengths he’ll go to find Margot.
In order to find a missing person, you’ll need the police involved which is where Detective Vick (Debra Messing) comes into play. She pulls off the stern seriousness of being a detective and becomes a vital part of the story. There’s David’s brother Peter who gives a nice bit of a comedy and important information on the emotional state of some characters.
The film is a stark reminder of the dangers of social media and how the internet can both help and connect us to loved ones, and how it can destroy us and drive us to the brink of insanity. Margot is an awkward girl who is trying to become popular and she was manipulated into doing something wrong and is put into a dangerous situation. Her father must go ‘searching’ (pun intended) for her and try to learn the truth about his daughter. You’ll constantly be suspecting who is responsible for the disappearance of Margot or if she ran away. This is not only a great found footage movie, but it’s also a damn great mystery.
What I found most surprising from the film is the message of family and the emotional roller coaster you go on. I bet after you finish watching it, you’re going to want to hug a loved one. You don’t need to be a detective to realize that I’m definitely going to recommend this film. After reading this, I hope you have time to rush to the theater and watch it, because you won’t want to miss it.
Searching is in theatres August 24th.