Searching is a mystery thriller that takes place entirely on computer screens. David, played excellently by John Cho, frantically searches computers and the internet for his missing daughter Margot. The film falls into a new category called “desktop movies.” All of the film takes place on a computer screen, which is usually used for horror films like Unfriended.
The filmmakers are able to pan around the screen and bring up different video apps at the right time to show the action to the audience. This actually adds suspense to the film as the audience can feel exactly what David is feeling while searching for his daughter in real time.
The filmmakers use every tool available to them on a computer in order to tell the story. So much so, that the movie does start to feel like a sponsored ad by some of companies that are given prominent display. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Venmo, just to name a few.
The story is able to maintain itself within the desktop genre because it is a very traditional mystery thriller. It follows all of the plot points of the missing person genre. Audiences have a basic knowledge of how these movies play out, so they can fill in the gaps of the action when it is not on screen.
With everything that the movie excels at, the last thirty minutes of the movie really feels like a cheat. There is overuse of the news cameras to tell the story to fill in gaps and the police interrogation video blatantly spews exposition to wrap the movie up in a nice bow.
Whose Review gives Searching the overall score of… iSearching. There are two hurdles to get over in order to enjoy this decent thriller. The first, and biggest, is that it falls into the new “desktop movie” genre. If the idea of looking at someone’s Apple computer screen for 90 minutes doesn’t doesn’t sound exciting, search for something other than Searching in theaters. The second hurdle is that the story being told is so formulaic, that other than the novelty of being on the desktop, there’s nothing really all that new and exciting here. If the movie was shot in a traditional style, it would be a B-grade thriller that we’d probably rate as wait for the Blu-ray.
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