So I finally got around to watching the movie “Searching,” starring John Cho. I admittedly have been avoiding this movie. I did not have high expectations for it, in fact, I kind of had low expectations for it given its format. With it having the same film style as Unfriended, I just had a bad taste in my mouth over on account of how awful Unfriended and Unfriended: The Dark Web, are. But I realize I was being an idiot about that. The actual style of having a computer screen as the camera is smart, and with a good director who understands how computers work, it could be amazing. And it is amazing in Searching.
Searching is a thriller about a father desperately trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter. While the police do their own investigation, her father, John Cho, starts his own search, by using her laptop to trace her digital footprint.
I really loved this movie. The screen capture technique works so well here and really adds to the purpose of the movie. In lesser hands, they would have used it as an excuse to be lazy. In Unfriended they used it as an excuse to sneak blatant cuts in, but they were so lazy they didn’t even try to hide it. You will literally see characters just teleport on the screen because they added a cut. Thankfully that never happens in this movie, at least not that I noticed.
It was the feature film debut for director Aneesh Chaganty and a really impressive one at that. It was so refreshing to watch a movie about technology and not have to bang my head on the wall because the movie clearly does not understand the technology they are covering. And I am not just taking another shot at Unfriended. There are a litany of technology movies that are incompetent when it comes to covering the tech they based their entire movie premise on. Take a look at film duds like Cyberbully and Sarah is Missing.
Aneesh uses multiple websites in his film to drive the point of different scenes home, and everything shown has a purpose. It makes sense for the things we see on screen to be there. The way people use the technology makes sense. The characters themselves don’t come off as if this is the first time they have ever used a laptop.
But there is more to appreciate here than the directors understanding of his own movie’s premise and the tech he used to create it. It is also mostly well written and performed. There are a couple scenes that turn up the cheese too much, but that isn’t the worst thing in the world. The movie kept me on edge. Not to say it is surprising, but I never felt annoyed that anything was too obvious. The film at least tries to subvert the expectations of the audience, which I appreciate. John Cho gives a very good performance, and most of the supporting cast follows suit.
So overall, I loved this movie. Is it perfect? No. But it has very few flaws. For a directorial debut, it is super impressive. I am already anticipating his next feature movie, titled Run, which is evidently another horror/thriller.