“Searching”, directed by Aneesh Chaganty, is a movie following David Kim, a single father played by John Cho, as he searches for his 16-year-old daughter Margot who had recently gone missing. On the surface, this might sound like another carbon copy of “Taken”, but that would be anything but the truth. In this masterfully crafted film, Chaganty delivers a compelling and relatable story that will keep you white-knuckled and at the edge of your seat.
Never has so much emotion been shown through a computer screen. As soon as the film begins, audiences are greeted with something very familiar: a Windows desktop. They watch as someone creates a new user. It’s Margot, but not the troubled 16-year-old we see later in the film. No, this is a much younger and more innocent Margot. In the next scenes, audiences see a montage of photos and videos documenting the life of Margot as she begins to mature. They see some of her happier times, like when she takes her first piano lesson or when she attends her first day of kindergarten. We also see some of the hardships that she encounters, like when her mother is diagnosed with cancer and eventually passes away. It’s important to note that up until now there has been no narration — everything is conveyed through videos, Google searches, documents, and photos.
After roughly ten minutes of this montage, all audiences begin to ponder upon a single question: who is behind the cameras Who is documenting all of this information? Who is behind the computer screen? Suddenly a Facetime call comes in and audiences realize that the person was none other than David Kim.
One thing that keeps this film so engaging is its ability to make the audience themselves feel like David. Everytime David answers a Facetime call and they see his worried, exhausted face, they feel the same. They are tired of the constant dead ends and a sinking feeling of hopelessness lingers like a sour aftertaste. Even when David’s expressions are not visible, his franticness as his mouse cursor scurries around his desktop and his typing becomes louder can be sensed.
Not only is this film’s execution fresh and interesting, but its plot is unique too. There are a handful of unexpected twists and turns intertwined with all of the information provided earlier in the movie. Not a single detail mentioned in this film is put to waste. The movie constantly has audiences asking questions, nudging them towards suspects that may or may not even be related to Margot’s disappearance.
One segment of this film revolves around the online reactions to Margot’s disappearance, showing both those posing as her supposed “best friends” mourning her loss and those who are criticizing David for her sudden absence. This scene was as real as any modern movie clip could get. It’s practically impossible to ignore how easily swayed people are on the Internet. Media often showcases misleading titles and seemingly objective articles are littered with bias. It’s especially easy to feel pressured to bandwagon with the majority’s opinion, as people’s response to everything is monitored by the rest of the world.
But it doesn’t stop there. “Searching” also gives people a glimpse at how disturbingly easy it is to fake kindness online. Videos of people claiming to be someone’s “best friend” or “buddy” are everywhere, even if this “friend” had rarely ever spoken to a victim
However, this is not to say that “Searching” is some sort of warning or spooky bedtime story to keep parents up at night, wondering what their children are doing with their electronic devices. This film actually shows audiences the beauty of the Internet and how it is a great resource that is unfortunately abused by its users. There are so many moving movements in this film that truly show how integrated and essential computers as well as other electronics have become in our lives. From birth all the way to death, the computer documents everything.
“Searching” is more than just a thriller flick. It’s a representation of modern society, one that every teenager and parent should be aware of. Instead of being an action-packed movie full of intense car chases and cheesy one-liners, “Searching” is full of carefully placed details weaving together perfectly, inviting audiences to question the legitimacy of the world wide web.