'Searching' (2018) Review

Updated on August 31, 2018
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at Bounding Into Comics, God Hates Geeks, and Slickster Magazine.

The official one-sheet theatrical poster for, "Searching."
The official one-sheet theatrical poster for, "Searching."

Gone Catfishin'

Similar to the Unfriended franchise in execution and in the vein of films such as Gone Girl and 8MM, Searching is an American PG-13 rated thriller directed by Aneesh Chaganty (his feature film directing debut) and is co-written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian (a co-producer of Fruitvale Station). Searching is noteworthy for being the first mainstream Hollywood thriller to feature an Asian-American actor (John Cho) in the lead role.

John Cho stars as David Kim, father of 16-year-old Margot Kim (Michelle La in her mainstream acting debut). Margot goes missing after an all-night study session at a friend’s house. After countless texts, unanswered voicemails, and discussions with classmates that go nowhere, 37 hours pass and David finally calls the police. Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) handles Margot’s disappearance and allows David to assist in the investigation. With nowhere else to turn, David turns to his daughter’s laptop for clues. Told through the use of computer screens and smartphones, Searching is a thriller that utilizes a unique perspective that provides a one-of-a-kind narrative of a father exhausting every lead that comes to mind and a daughter who has kept a closet full of secrets from the most important person in her life.

How the story of Searching is told is what makes it refreshing. Without seeing the Unfriended films or the horror-thriller Profile (co-written and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, a producer of Searching), the concept of Searching seemed tiresome at first yet grows on you the more you’re exposed to it. The story is mostly told through family photos, FaceTime conversations, text messages, Google searches, streaming video, and surveillance footage. The opening of the film highlights Pam Kim’s (Sara Sohn known for Furious 7 and Twin Peaks), the wife of David Kim and mother to Margot, battle with cancer. With no spoken words whatsoever, it’s amazing how devastating watching a cursor bump the day a mother is supposed to return home from the hospital before eventually dragging the event into the trash can and realizing what that means. There is heart and emotion in simple computer tasks, which is highly unusual but impressive.

The story propels the viewer into the investigation making you feel like you’re right next to David as he attempts to track Margot down. The PG-13 rating may put some off, but language and extra blood or excessive gore wasn’t needed in a film like this. You understand the overwhelming desperation and exhausting frustration David is going through in John Cho’s exquisite performance, but Searching provides a terrifying expedition filled with unforeseeable detours and shocking revelations. According to IMDb trivia, eagle eyed viewers may be able to spot text and clues hinting at where the story is headed but it is likely more enjoyable to sit back and allow the film to blindly guide you towards its unexpected resolution.

John Cho as David Kim in, "Searching."
John Cho as David Kim in, "Searching."

The thriller touches on several aspects that parents don’t want to think about and question how well you truly know those closest to you. The lack of evidence along with allowing assumptions to gain traction is what makes the outcome of the film feel so hectic and hopeless. The ones we rely on the most, including our own flesh and blood, could be capable of deceit. The people you see on an everyday basis are likely common acquaintances rather than close friends. Searching not only keeps you guessing, but it also makes you question those within your inner circle. You likely won’t end up stalking anyone or plunging yourself into a police investigation like David Kim, but everyone has a skeleton in their closet that they don’t want to shed light on. Searching showcases that even the most innocent seeming teenage girls bury hidden bombshells from the rest of the world. Even with the best intentions, discovering that you’ve been lied to isn’t always well-received.

The David Kim character is personable, relatable, and likeable, which allows the audience to root for the best conclusion. The performances in Searching are strong, the story is expertly crafted, and the extreme tension you feel as every small bit of hope is met with bittersweet results only makes you sympathize with David more. Searching is a mystery that is constantly unraveling with a standout storytelling technique, which results in a distinctive cinematic experience.

Debra Messing and John Cho as Detective Vick and David Kim in, "Searching."
Debra Messing and John Cho as Detective Vick and David Kim in, "Searching."
4 stars for Searching (2018)

© 2018 Chris Sawin


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)