The internet is a scary place.
I’ve been hearing it for the longest time from my friends, family, and mostly, from the elderly. The moment you enter the internet, it’s like you entered a whole new world. It is similar to entering a landscape with practically endless possibilities. With that there are also dangers that lurk beneath it. Alright, guys, I am not trying to sound TEDx-ish here but I am just pointing out the horrors of the internet that the film Searching played with.

Bring in the Family Drama

In the movie, John Cho plays David Kim, a widower and a father to Margot Kim. It’s now just the two of them left at home. The father and daughter are sharing a rather sweet relationship. The film established this right from the start. However, just like in any teenage stories comes a point where there will be a gap that will dissolve the bond between the parents and their kids. Searching based the plot on this narrative and married it with the horrors of the internet. It is wildly amusing how the movie created high tension sequences with a practically basic missing person plot.

John Cho and Michelle La in Searching. | Credit: Columbia Pictures
John Cho and Michelle La in Searching. | Credit: Columbia Pictures

Stories of kids exploring the depths of the internet and getting into mischief are not new. Yet the film successfully made something exciting out of it. Aneesh Chaganty directed the movie with clearly one vision in mind- to create a puzzle for audiences to solve, with each piece scattered throughout the internet. Personally, I am a sucker for the genre and Searching is among the very few that had me sitting at the edge of my seat the entire time, scrambling my head for clues that I may have missed throughout the film. While the family drama served as the backdrop for the story, the whole experience was not bogged down by it earning an extra point in my book.

Consistency is Key

Following the tactics that made Unfriended a memorable one, Searching employed the same style of presenting the whole movie through a series of screens. It should not come as a surprise since this is also produced by Timur Bekmambetov. Part of the thrill of solving the puzzle was also waiting for the moment that the film will break away from the screen POV. A bit of a spoiler: they did not. As a film student, I developed an amount of respect for the film for its consistency. It is a simple rule in everything: consistency is key.

John Cho searches for his daughter in Searching. | Credit: Columbia Pictures
John Cho searches for his daughter in Searching. | Credit: Columbia Pictures

This is not the only aspect where Searching exhibited consistency. Typically, a missing person movie will be thrilling, exhausting, and full of action. That’s not exactly the case on this one. It took the other route. While there are exciting sequences, it did not go all out and proved that holding back can sometimes be a good thing. The pace and the twists awaiting at every corner made my heart race and weirdly uncomfortable in my seat!

Searching may just be your next sleeper hit. Not many are talking about it (YET!) but critics and film lovers such as I am are raving about it. It is one of the recent thrillers that will actually thrill you. Puzzle-solvers will definitely love it. Just when you thought you solved the puzzle, the movie will hit you with a series of twists and turns! It is innovative, consistent, and a thrilling experience filled with high tension bits waiting in every corner.

Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, and Michelle La
Binge-level: 5 out of 5 stars.

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