Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching

For a film that’s confined to the visual format of social media screens, Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching is one dynamic thriller with suspense, momentum and twists that blindside you. The premise is simple: David Kim’s (John Cho) daughter is missing. She hasn’t answered his calls, texts or FaceTime and communication from her end has gone dead. He now has to break into her laptop, scour through apps, feeds and chat rooms to gain clues about her whereabouts, with the help of an intrepid Detective (Debra Messing). Every frame of this film is some sort of technological facet, from chat alerts to messages to candid footage to news updates to webcasts and more, and against all odds it really, really works. When you’re restricted by format to that level you have to make every inch of your story count, and Chaganty has produced a winner. Right off the bat we are introduced to a family history via stored footage that has us caring for both David and his daughter immensely, before she even goes missing. Cho’s performance is panicked, desperate everything a father in that situation should reflect. The suspense is brilliantly placed and as the story rounds each new curve and doles out a few well earned wow moments, it remains unpredictable and aside from a few minor quibbles and one eye-roll of a red herring, believable as well. I’d love to see this continue into an anthology of sorts, with more mysteries and thrillers told from the perspective of technology/social media. It rules many aspects of our lives and is present wherever we go, whatever we do and I’m fascinated by how they have integrated it into the medium of cinema here. Great film.

-Nate Hill

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