Found footage movies grew in popularity across the 2000's with films like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield demonstrating a new style of filmmaking. With technology advancing video cameras have practically died out and this genre was forced to evolve. Taking place entirely on a computer screen, after his daughter Margot goes missing David Kim breaks into her MacBook in a desperate attempt to find her.
Told through iMessage, Face Time, Facebook and the rest of the Internet, Searching pulls off a very tricky filmmaking format, boasting a thrilling story full of twists and turns. Interlaced with a crafty, Hitchcockian premise - Searching has style in spades but ultimately can't find an efficient way to wrap itself up. Director Aneesh Chaganty leaves a subtle trail of breadcrumbs whilst throwing in various different red herrings along the way - assuring you'll never uncover the real truth until the very end.
The film opens on a family computer, moving through files of first days of school, holidays, birthdays and piano lessons - in that time we see Margot grow from a little girl into a sixteen year old. With no detail to spare, Searching throws you into the ups and downs of family life exclusively through the perspective of a computer screen. John Cho stars as the anxiously overprotective father David Kim, and though his performance doesn't go much further than frantically typing, clicking and searching through Margot's laptop - Cho makes convincing, above average dad who has the brains and the gumption to take the investigation into his own hands.
Searching's techno design is boosted by horrifyingly accurate social commentary. Director Chaganty highlights the dangers of social media and meeting strangers online - paying stylish homage to the craftsmanship behind Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho, and it's influence on so many films since. In spite of all that good, everything about Searching is undercut by an unsatisfying ending. It's as if Chaganty created numerous different outcomes and stuck them all together, hence the big reveal drags on and the ending appears mediocre.
When all things are considered Searching is a thrilling and well crafted popcorn flick. Chaganty has a lot to say about the use of social media, the different lives people can live online, and how well a parent knows their child. Paying tribute to one of the greatest film makers in movie history, Searching really is - nearly is - a modern Hitchcock, but lacks the trademark hair-raising finale.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.