“Searching” stars John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, and Ric Sarabia. Released on August 24, 2018, the film is about a father who sets out to find her missing daughter.
The film features the directorial debut of Aneesh Chaganty. During certain points in our lives, we all go to great lengths to search for the ones we love, whether it’s our spouse or one of our children, even if it means looking at their personal stuff online. The last weekend of summer vacation is set to deliver at least one more batch of thrills before everyone goes back to school or college, whichever the two. Today, we’re starting things off with the latest thriller that utilizes both the found-footage style that we normally see in the horror genre and the modern depictions of social media. This is another film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and has earned plenty of positive reviews since its debut, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to get to it first. It was a good thing I did because I thought it was a brilliant debut from Chaganty.
The film’s style is very similar to the likes of “Unfriended” and its sequel that came out last month, in which it is shot from the point-of-view of computer screens and smartphones. The main difference is that this film is more of a realistic take on a father’s search for his daughter rather than an ordinary supernatural horror movie. What’s also different about this style is the editing. Rather than having one continuous shot of the same screen for more than an hour and a half, the film offered many different shots of the same screen, mostly the ones that were zooming in on different parts of the screen. I happened to like what they did with this type of filmmaking because of how it explores the film’s story and characters in a effective and unique way. But that’s not the only reason why I liked it so much. Not only was the film intense and engaging from beginning to end, but it also had a surprising amount of depth in its heartfelt moments and timely themes, which is something that we haven’t seen that much in this type of genre. It had the right balance between thrills and drama to cover up its usual thriller tropes thanks to Chaganty’s direction. The story, as well as the relationship between the father and his daughter, worked really well with one of the main issues of social media, which is that people use it to hide themselves from what they really are when they’re not on a computer and cell phone. I think a lot of people who is dealing with social media now will definitely relate to this type of problem, especially parents and teenagers. They will also be treated to a slow and steady mystery that’ll keep them guessing until the very end. It’s something that I would like to call “a win-win scenario”. John Cho was really impressive in his role as the father. He really captured the essence of a concerned parent in a riveting and controlled matter. This is probably the best non-“Harold-and-Kumar" performance I’ve seen from him so far. Debra Messing also did a great job as a detective who helps Cho find his missing daughter. As for its flaws, the film does have a couple of slow parts that may or may not bore someone who is looking for a fast-paced thrill ride instead of watching someone look up something on a computer or a cell phone for more than an hour and a half. However, the pacing worked well enough to keep my attention throughtout the entire film as well as making the plot and the characters interesting.
Overall, “Searching” works extremely well as both a mystery thriller and an engaging drama that depicts the real-life problems of social media. In terms of the cast, Chaganty’s direction, and its unique style, this is a found-footage film that fully expresses the use of this type of filmmaking tool. It also proves that the found-footage style can be used for any type of genre, not just horror films in general. I’m really hoping that we get more films like this, especially the ones that involve social media, because this film, in my personal opinion, is a found-footage project done right.