It is perfectly natural to feel a sense a trepidation when entering a film that uses the notorious webcam perspective for the entire runtime; few films have ever truly succeeded at producing a quality end product. But I assure you, everything you’re about to see here works as naturally as any conventionally good mystery film you’ll see.
Searching a desperate father searching for his daughter who mysteriously disappeared, alongside the detective assigned to his case.
Searching subverts from the standard mystery filming style as the story’s perspective is told entirely behind the screen of a computer. The format of a film being behind a computer screen is not new; films have utilized this before like the recently developed Unfriended franchise, while others tinkered with it lightly like the 2016 biographical drama Lion. While many would argue the gimmicky nature of it all could potentially cause quality issues in the storytelling process, in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. Searching not only proves it can be just as effective in this format, but thrives because of it. Providing the audience a new layer of depth in how we can use information to uncover the digital identities of those around us, while allowing us to get into the head of the lead character.
Searching goes beyond the veil of a father desperate to find his daughter, it goes into the regrets and self-blame a parent inflicts on themselves when tragedy strikes their child, what lengths they will go to, and the hope that they can reconcile what they perceive as their own mistakes. John Cho provides a powerful and emotional performance that allows you to get fully invested in his character, the desperation he feels and the horror. Additionally, Debra Messing provides a strong supporting role as the detective, showing layers of her character that help bring the story to new heights.
This film will keep you hooked from beginning to end with its heart racing pace – as it constantly builds upon its story, raising the stakes for the mystery at hand. The tension that is built throughout the story provide multiple jaw dropping moments as it twisted into directions I never expected. While this film didn’t have magnificent cinematography, such things aren’t necessary in a film like this, the engaging format provides you with realism in this digital search for a missing girl. The most well constructed piece of visual imagery in this film was its depiction of the internet itself, and while it may seem like a trivial thing, very few films have successfully depicted the internet for what it is – a collection of good people, bad people, and strange people. Basically, humanity.
Searching is everything you want out of a good mystery film, it provides multiple levels of mystery that keeps you engaged and its strong performances bolster its story even further. Searching is a fully realised mystery film in the modern world; utilizing technology in the digital age as a conduit to enrich its story.