Searching becomes a mystery with a real difference
Unfriended: Dark Web released in the UK last month; A horror sequel filmed entirely as if it were a computer screen. As made clear in this review, it was paving way to a broader and more expansive usage of a very new style of film making. Searching, the first feature film from director Aneesh Chaganty, already takes the computer screen to the next level, making possibly one of the greatest films the sub-genre will ever produce.
David (John Cho) is a single father living in the suburbs of San Jose. Having a close relationship to his daughter is vital to him after the death of his wife and on the surface Margot (Michelle La) seems as if she wants exactly the same thing. Yet when Margot fails to turn up to school or to a friend’s camping trip, David discovers he only knew a fraction of what was going on in Margot’s life and her mind.
It is absolutely the intricacies that make Searching so compelling. Throughout, the minor details around dates, videos, posts and absolutely anything else that appears within the borders of the computer screen give the film a constantly evolving passage to the end result. By never standing still and constantly offering tiny snippets into what may have happened to Margot, Searching becomes a mystery with a real difference.
It feels connected and omniscient as it displays just enough detail to work out exactly what has happened to Margot, whilst still remaining a secret to the majority. At no point does it feel impossible and outrageous, and that sense of reality is core to what Chaganty wanted to get across with Searching. This is a realistic modern day mystery, and because it’s set on a screen, the opportunities the internet offers are too good to miss out on.
John Cho gives a loving but desperate performance as Margot’s father, becoming as much part of the internet and the computer itself as the websites he is using as tools. This goes a long way to aiding the realistic feel Chaganty was promoting. At no point does Searching take the audience out of the film, and out of its main goal: Finding Margot.
Searching is a must-watch purely for its impeccable use of the sub-genre, but the real joy to be had is in the mystery. Often these stories lead to an unease or dissatisfaction with the end result but Searching does none of that offering only a thrilling ride with an equally entertaining finale.
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