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SEARCHING gets 8/10 Rear Windows

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Starring John Cho, Debra Messing


The basic way to describe Searching is that it’s like the Unfriended films, except it’s a thriller not a horror, and it’s not terrible (sorry to all the Unfriended fans out there). Taking place entirely through computer screens and phone screens, Searching is a unique, impressive, and immersive cinema experience that uses its intriguing presentation to reflect on our internet usage via this missing person mystery.

Starting off very strong with a wonderful montage of a family growing up along with their computers (like a social-media version of the montage from Up), David (John Cho) is the overprotective single father of Margot (Michelle Lea), who’s a big fan of using technology to always keep track of her. One day, after she doesn’t return home, David becomes increasingly worried about her disappearance, and with the help of Detective Rosemary (Debra Messing), he begins a search for her by combing through her past as recorded by her computer and social media usage.

This standard missing person mystery plot is given a thoroughly fresh perspective by having it all take place on computer and phone screens, ergo having the movie focus so heavily on the internet and how people (particularly teenage girls) use it. This kind of presentation never comes across as cheesy or inauthentic, the computer screens and various websites and apps that show up in the film not only look convincing, but portray how a shy teenager like Margot or a concerned father like David put them to use.

Despite such a restricted technical perspective that Searching takes place in, this doesn’t seem to harm any emotional impact the film has, but instead seems to strengthen it – one of Searching’s great achievements is that it is able to make the audience connect with the family just by showing something as simple as text messages.

There are many twists and turns in this unpredictable mystery, which admittedly adds up to a rather convoluted story, but it makes this journey for the truth all the more engaging, without wasting a second. Searching is the kind of mystery film absolutely packed with details, making it the perfect thriller to stimulate long post-screening discussions and an urge for plenty of rewatches to pick up on all the intricacies of this online mystery.


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