David Kim (John Cho) is a single father negotiating the perils of parenting an attractive teenage girl, who has been traumatized by her mother’s death. David finds out just how little he knows his daughter Margot (Michelle La) when she doesn’t return home from a late night study group session.
The entire story is told on screens: desktop monitors, laptops, tablets, cell phones, televisions and security cameras. This clever conceit not only creates a claustrophobic feel, but adds eerie commentary on modern society, proving that we rely so heavily on technology that our life stories can be told virtually. Because the film takes place as images, you begin to question the reality of the details and events. This makes John Cho’s performance as the emotionally distraught father fighting for clues to his daughter’s disappearance even more impressive, because he is rarely in the same room with another actor. Debra Messing turns in a rare dramatic role as Detective Vick, a very concerned cop that is helping to piece together the clues of the disappearance.
Director Aneesh Chagantry has a tremendous imagination and this film is visionary in its presentation of the internet, social media and the latest technology as places of peril and angst. They are so dangerous because they are ubiquitous and indispensable. But it is a double-edged sword because these things can also provide endless information that can possibly give access to answers.
Searching is twisty, and expertly told, providing lots of surprises. Toward the end it becomes more and more difficult to orchestrate action solely on a screen, camera, or otherwise virtual frame, but you won’t mind as the ride getting there is ingenious, and you will be fully engaged throughout by this spellbinding thriller.