Monday, September 10, 2018

Movie Review: "Searching" (2018)

Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

After his teenage daughter Margot goes missing, David Kim does a deep-dive into her online history to look for clues as to why she disappeared. David soon discovers that he didn't know his daughter as well as he thought he did.

"What was your relationship like with Margot?" (Image Source)
How well do you really know your kids? How well does anybody really know anyone? "Searching" is the feature film directorial debut of Aneesh Chaganty. He also helped write the screenplay along with producer Sev Ohanian. The story revolves around David Kim (John Cho), who is a father and a widower. For the last couple of years since his wife's passing, he has assumed that he and his daughter Margot (Michelle La) have had a great relationship, until one evening, she disappears. He believes that Margot has been abducted or perhaps something worse, but the police, and specifically the agent assigned to his case Detective Vick (Debra Messing), think she may have run away. As he digs deeper and deeper into his daughter's various online profile and accounts, David begins to realize that he didn't know Margot quite as well as he thought he did.
"If you don't know any of her friends, who would?" (Image Source)
"Searching" is the latest in the new wave of found footage filmmaking that uses the internet and computer/TV/phone screens as the window into the movie's universe. This technique has been used in "The Den," as well as the two "Unfriended" movies, which were also produced by Timur Bekmambetov. "Searching" differs itself a bit by being more of a dramatic crime thriller than a straight-up horror film (though I did catch a nice little easter egg homage to "Unfriended" at the beginning montage. Go me!).

The mystery of what happened to Margot Kim is a compelling one that pulls the audience into its twisty, turny nature. This is a story that will keep you guessing, just like any well-made mystery should. The ending doesn't come out of left field like it does in other lesser crime thrillers like "The Snowman," so that's automatically a plus in our books. This film makes total sense, and all of the pieces fit together cleanly if you pay attention the entire way through. John Cho offers a wonderful performance as David Kim, a father motivated to find his daughter at all costs. Cho is able to convey such a wide range of emotions here. He wears the pain of loss, sorrow, and desperation on his face as he attempts to help solve the enigma of his missing kid while simultaneously struggling to come to terms with the fact that he may not actually know his daughter. It's a good thing too because he carries almost all of the film by himself and is on-screen nearly the entire runtime.
"You don't think she's involved with anything serious, right?" (Image Source)
Go into "Searching" knowing as little as possible. Also, go in knowing that this is not a film you can passively watch while doing something else since so much information is distributed to the audience via what is written on the screen in the form of instant messages and text messages, other online postings, emails, pictures, and videos. If you turn away for too long, you may miss everything, and one missing piece will make the entire cookie crumble. This "shared desktop" movie may not be all that new or groundbreaking, but it is an interesting story with excellent acting and expert editing that should be seen on the big screen.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.9/10
RT Rating: ~92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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