The real star of the film is the technology. […] A second look would see it as a comment on just how accessible we’ve all made ourselves online. Password protected accounts are just a short confirmation email away, and geo-tags reveal more history than a flat out interrogation.
2014’s Unfriended was a delicious experience. Taking place entirely on the computer screens of a group of friends, the horror movie weaved a genuinely engaging and terrifying story. That same concept is back in the John Cho led Searching, a thriller so tense it will leave you wound up in knots.
My lusty side hadn’t realized that Cho had already graduated to dad roles, but here he plays David Kim, the concerned father desperate to find his missing daughter Margot. The opening montage expertly uses a combination of saved photos and calenders to convey that their happy family was shattered when Pamela, Margot’s mother and David’s wife died of cancer. Now, the two live in mostly uneasy silence, talking around the massive hole in their lives. It’s that hole that turns out to be the source of tension when Margot stops answering her phone and is designated missing.
As he desperately searches for his daughter, David must contend with the fact that he didn’t really know her at all. Margot has no close friends, has quit her piano lessons and has been squirreling away the fees. She has spent countless hours streaming her life online, chatting with a young woman he can find no trace of. David has no idea who he has been living with.
But the real star of the film is the technology. Endless reverse lookups and social media searches provide David with the clues he needs to piece together his daughter’s final days and ultimately crack the case. A second look would see it as a comment on just how accessible we’ve all made ourselves online. Password protected accounts are just a short confirmation email away, and geo-tags reveal more history than a flat out interrogation.
Cho is excellent in the role, especially considering the medium and how poorly it renders his own face. But his desperate, frantic search for Margot and his frequent clashes with Rosemary Vick the detective assigned to the case make for a taut film that his bursting at the seems with tension and suspense. Every new clue is scrutinized right in front of us; the entire amateur investigation laid bare. We figure out the film’s new twists and turns alongside David, and Cho wonderfully conveys the disbelief, wonder and anger that accompanies each new piece of information.
The final twist is well worth the wait, and neatly wraps up any and all narrative loose ends with clear explanations for the circumstances that brought us into the story in the first place, it is a wild ride getting to the end; prepare to have your heart drop into your stomach more than once.