Written by Wayne Townsend
Searching is an under the radar 2018 film distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing this summer after premiering at Sundance in January. Making his directorial debut, Aneesh Chaganty crafted a well-told thriller with a not so obvious twist worthy of one of M Night Shyamalan better outings. Enough clues are sprinkled throughout the film to satisfy any self-prescribed detective to solve the crime (I didn’t). Chaganty never reveals too much and keeps the audience waiting on edge for the next scene. What makes this such a fascinating watch is Chaganty tells the story from the POV (Point of View) of iPhones (sorry Android users), computer cameras, CCTV, newscasts, and home security feeds. Every scene makes the audience feel like they are Face-timing, texting or Skyping. The entire movie screen is filled with whatever electronic device is being used at any given time. Even the natural act of typing a message and backspacing to retype said message with a change in tone. No one who has ever texted anyone isn’t guilty of this.
Under the radar could also describe the career of the film’s star, John Cho. Cho is a veteran actor, guest starring on TV shows since the late 90’s and played Harold in the two Harold and Kumar movies. Cho also plays Sulu in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. In Searching, Cho plays David Kim, a father who slowly realizes his teenage daughter is missing. Cho conducts a side investigation of his daughters missing person case, headed by an effective Debra Messing in a role outside her usual fare. A montage at the beginning of the film is a trip down memory lane by Cho through the images he has captured and stored on his computer, from his wife giving birth through his daughter’s current age. This also chronicles the advances in computer technology and its saturation into our society. Myspace gets an honorable mention, as does the birth of Facebook. It was humbling to see in a ten-minute montage how society transitioned from “Baby Boomers” to “Millennials” running the world. I still don’t get it, but I digress. The subject matter was chilling as most believe “Big Brother” is everywhere but Margot Kim, played by Michelle La, was still able to disappear even though she had an account on every social media platform available to her, Twitter, FB, and a few I’d hadn’t heard of. Chaganty, born in 1991, (Millennial, I know, right?) didn’t shy away from the dangers of social platforms, “catfishing” (creating fake ID’s online) is a significant theme, and fake news almost derails the entire case. The pace was slow, which raised the tension and crescendos to a satisfying payoff at the end worthy of the investment. Being a Millennial aside, I will be looking forward to the many entries I anticipate we will see from Caganty in the future. Searching gets 4 out of 5. Please excuse me, I must now open a SpaceBook account.