Have you noticed the excitement in a movie when a character uses a computer? Think of action thrillers like the Jason Bourne trilogy, when somebody sifts through databases gaining access to important information. This is the kind of action that ‘Searching’ employs through its entirety. The film is viewed from one man’s perspective of looking at computer screens, surfing the internet, clicking on links and piecing together clues on how events may have occurred. In a brief introduction, we learn of a young couple named David (John Cho) and Pamela (Sara Sohn) and their daughter Margot. Through a series of short clips filmed through smart phones, it’s evident they were a tight knit and happy family. But overtime the footage shows that Pamela had developed an illness and passed away. It brings the story to present with David and Margot in a relationship that is growing apart. Until one day, Margot doesn’t come home.
What follows is an entire investigation seen through computers screens via phone cams, webcams, GPS, news footage, and hidden cameras. All recording equipment for the current generation. The film is viewed mainly from David’s eyes or his point of view in an internet search for Margot’s possible whereabouts. Her social networks leave clues based on frequent contacts, user id’s, and inappropriate comments. David doesn’t always see them immediately. In this way, the narrative is purposely tricky as it ceaselessly moves forward, ignoring information that some of us viewers may have considered as clues. Working closely with him is an experienced Detective Rosemary (Debra Messing) who does the field work. Given the movie’s approach of viewing the internet or small screens, it lacks the aesthetic qualities of actual locations and framed scenery. But it’s consistently intriguing and will keep you guessing. The performances are engaging and when viewed through webcams, it adds tension to the situations. The director Aneesh Chaganty (with co-writer Sev Ohanian) have accomplished a feat here by not using the conventions of cinematography. It’s a suspense thriller that’s very suitable to our technological era.