12 Engrossing Movies Like 'Searching' Everyone Should See
What Films Are Like Searching?
There are some movies you can tell immediately are going to be completely different from what you’re used to. It’s less about the genre, plot or acting and more about the way it is shot. It looks like a movie, but it doesn’t exactly look like a movie.
A recent example of this is the movie Searching. Following a father who is looking for his missing daughter, it tells the entire story through a computer screen. In theory, the concept isn’t that far-fetched, considering we spend a lot of time behind our computer screens (like you’re doing right now). In truth, there has been an emergence of a new genre of cinematography in recent years that utilize this format.
As a fan of all things cinema, I decided to take a look at other movies like Searching that have provided us with interesting perspectives over the years. Let's take a look.
Films Similar to Searching
- Unfriended (2014)
- Profile (2018)
- Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough (2018)
- Cam (2018)
- Open Windows (2014)
- The Den (2013)
- Numero Deux (1975)
- Persona (1966)
- Goodbye to Language (2014)
- Blue (1993)
- Dogville (2003)
- Irreversible (2002)
1. Unfriended (2014)
When a group of five friends meets up online one night for a group video chat session, an unknown person joins the session as “Billie227." Thinking nothing of it and believing it is just a system error, they continue their conversation until they receive a Skype message from the unknown user claiming to be a classmate of theirs who killed herself a year ago.
First dismissing it as a prank, they quickly begin to realize they are dealing with something otherworldly when the user begins to reveal the dark secrets each of them hides. Not only do their web of lies unravel, but it quickly becomes clear that someone or something wants them dead.
Shot almost entirely on a computer screen, this supernatural horror film directed by Levan Gabriadze went on to become box office gold, raking in positive reviews as well as a gross of over $60 million compared to its modest budget of $1 million.
Unfriended, just like Searching, is another example of the screenlife cinematography style that is beginning to take shape in modern day cinema. It was most likely the inspiration for the shooting style for Searching, as it is attached to the same producer and champion of the screenlife movie format, Timur Bekmambetov. Unfriended is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
2. Profile (2018)
Full disclosure: you’re going to be seeing a lot of director/producer Timur Bekmambetov’s movies name attached to several lists like this in the near future, mainly due to his unique screenlife style of cinematography.
Profile follows the story of an undercover British journalist who manages to infiltrate the online propaganda channels used by ISIS to recruit young European women, by creating a fake Facebook profile and posing as a newly converted member of the Islamic faith.
Things start to go awry, however, when the faked interactions begin to elicit real emotions from the journalist as she falls in love with her recruiter. Based on the novel In the Skin of a Jihadist by Anna Erelle that deals with the same topic of ISIS’ recruitment of young European women, the film holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 60% and an IMDb rating of 7.4/10, received mainly positive reviews.
Again, what makes this film unique is not essentially the plot or premise, but the fact that it was shot entirely on a computer screen. If you're looking for a movie like Searching, Profile Should be right up your alley.
3. Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough (2018)
This entry is for gamers. Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough is a short comedy parodying the antics of YouTubers in general but with special deference to gaming streamers. Written and directed by Nick Gibbons and Chris Kelly, the film follows a streamer named Blair Trigger, played by John Mangan, as he does a walkthrough video to reveal a game glitch to beat a particularly difficult boss in the popular game, Final Deployment 4 (a totally fictional game), and his subsequent level playthroughs.
Created by the same duo who brought us the viral sensation, Too Many Cooks, Final Deployment 4 is shot entirely as a streaming video and is a hilarious and surprisingly accurate depiction of the streaming culture prevalent today. Short it may be, it will leave you in stitches and wishing there was more. Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough is available on YouTube.
4. Cam (2018)
Cam is a psychological thriller that tells the story of Alice, a camgirl who seems determined to rise up the ranks and gain popularity on a camgirl site. She soon, however, finds that her channel and followers have been stolen by someone who looks exactly like her.
Not only has this doppelganger taken over Alice’s online persona, but they now push the boundaries of the personality Alice is prepared to present to the world in effect looking to destroy her life.
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber, Cam draws its inspiration from the life of the film’s screenwriter Isa Mazzei who herself was a camgirl. The film is the first full-length feature for both Goldhaber and Mazzei and has received high praise, holding a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94% as well as a Metacritic score of 71/100. Cam is available on Netflix.
5. Open Windows (2014)
Starring Elijah Wood, Nacho Vigalondo, and the beautiful Sasha Grey, Open Windows is a found footage style thriller that follows the story of the obsessed fan of an actress. Having won a contest to have dinner with his favorite actress Jill Goddard, Nick is crushed when he finds that his idol now refuses to continue with the contest.
Things, however, take a dark turn when he is given the opportunity to spy on Jill through his laptop, which he accepts. Shot predominantly through laptop screen recordings, Open Windows premiered in 2014 to missed reactions. Although, Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey’s performances were largely praised.
If you're looking for some nail-biting films like Searching, Open Windows should fit the bill.
6. The Den (2013)
When a sociology student receives a grant for her thesis, she takes to a webcam-based social media website called “The Den” to observe how people interact with each other. She gets a lot more than she bargained for when she witnesses a gruesome murder take place online. Things start to get a lot more terrifying when she realizes she along with her loved ones are now being targeted for the same fate.
Directed by Zachary Donohue on his directorial debut and starring Melanie Papalia, The Den utilized the found footage style of cinematography and became a sleeper hit, earning itself an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Den is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
7. Numéro Deux (1975)
Numéro Deux is a movie with a very different style of presenting its story. Telling the story of a young French family in a housing complex and the relationship and power dynamic between them, this experimental film by Jean-Luc Godard tells its story using television monitors set against a dark backdrop.
At any given point in time, there are always two stories playing out simultaneously on the monitors, leaving the audience with multiple ways to interpret the story. Godard creates a very different kind of viewing experience and most regard this film as his best offering to date, but be warned.
Numéro Deux is a film that ignores conventions and does get very graphic.
8. Persona (1966)
Eccentric cinematography is not peculiar to only the 21st century, Why, as far back as 1966, Ingmar Bergman was doing strange things with camerawork and effects as was shown in his film Persona.
This Swedish psychological drama follows the story of Alma, a young nurse who is charged to take care of Elizabeth, an actress who at first glance seems perfectly normal and healthy, but in fact, will not speak. Living together in a secluded beach cottage, Alma constantly speaks with Elisabeth in the hopes of a breakthrough.
However, the more time they spend together, the more Alma begins to confess her darkest secrets, to the point where she finds herself having trouble separating her personality from that of her patient’s. The themes explored by Bergman’s film range from duality and insanity, all through to abortion, lesbianism, and vampire mythology, with the film employing various effects during and after production.
The cinematography was ground-breaking for its time, to say the least. Even after the expected initial outrage over its provocative content, this taut feature fast became a cult favorite with many critics, describing Persona as one of the greatest films ever created.
9. Goodbye to Language (2014)
If there’s anything to expect from Jean-Luc Godard, it’s a dedication to deviate from the norm, and he does it yet again with his 2014 3D-film, Goodbye to Language.
The film tells the story of a couple, each having an affair and the repercussions that follow, through the eyes of a dog. Watching Goodbye to Language is an immersion into the mind of Godard of which many are bound to find incomprehensible, but difficult to look away from.
It is a visually captivating film that finds new cinematic ways to wow its audience, which is saying a lot in this day and age, considering how much audiences have been exposed to due to the advancements cinema has made.
Critics fell in love with the film after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and Goodbye to Language has gone on to receive rave reviews from sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scoring it at 88% and 75/100 respectively.
10. Blue (1993)
A word of caution; don’t walk into Derek Jarman’s 1993 film Blue with any expectations or preconceived notions of what a film should be like. The entire film is shot against a static, unchanging blue screen. Yes, the whole thing.
Blue is a part drama-part biopic story of director Derek Jarman’s experiences with AIDS, meshing real-life events with others that can only be described as dreamlike. It is a powerful film, not only in the metaphorical and actual interpretations of a gay man living with AIDS in the 90’s, but considering Jarman himself would pass away due to the disease, Blue comes across as almost a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
In a way, one can almost say Blue is the film of a man who leaves the Earth on his own terms. Those looking for some capricious movies like Searching will love what Blue brings to the table.
11. Dogville (2003)
If you’ve ever played a video game where the scenes seem to be reconstructing themselves as you walk through them, you’ll begin to get a sense of what Dogville is. Better yet, imagine an entire stage with obvious props for buildings.
Finally, the enigmatic Lars von Trier makes it on this list with a story about a woman who being chased by the mob, finds sanctuary in a reluctant small town. As payment for keeping her safe, the less than altruistic townsfolk demand she perform several tasks of physical labour. Her sacrifice does not prove enough as tensions begin to rise, provoking a vicious cycle of contempt and abuse from the townsfolk.
Starring the transcendent Nicole Kidman, Dogville is a film in nine chapters prefaced with a prologue. Initial reception for the film was polarizing as with most of von Trier’s films, but then went on to gather a sizeable following with an IMDb rating of 8/10, while earning a place in cinematic history for its unique visual style. Dogville is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
12. Irréversible (2002)
Irréversible is undoubtedly one of Gaspar Noé’s and cinema’s finest triumphs. The film recounts the events of one traumatic night when a woman, brutally raped and beaten by a stranger, seeks revenge together with her boyfriend. The catch is, everything happens in reverse.
Starring Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, this French psychological thriller is a film that unpacks the subtle laws of cause and effect as audiences sit through and watch the disturbingly graphic repercussions of seemingly innocuous events. The graphic nature of Irréversible, which includes a very disturbing ten-minute rape scene, made it one of the most polarizing films of its age.
Gaspar Noé also goes out of his way to make the movie nauseating using low-frequency sounds throughout the film’s entire running time to evoke feelings of nausea and anxiety for its viewers. On the one hand, it holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 57% and on the other, was voted for in a Sight & Sound critics poll as one of the greatest films made.
With consensus split right down the middle, Irréversible is a film best judged by individual viewing. Irréversible is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
Did I miss out on any good movies like Searching? Let me know in the comments section.