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Searching Movie Review (2018) | A Genius Modern Age Thriller

The Searching movie is a paragon of a genial thought, a modern age thriller that uses not a single piece of real imagery, but technology as a vantage point. It leverages it superbly depicting events of a crime and then uses it to solve it as well. Searching’s true genius lies in the fact that there’s not a single moment in the entire movie that does not use technology to depict what’s depicted. There are no conventional cameras here, just a pigeonhole perspective that runs amok. Makes you realize that you don’t need a camera really to shoot a movie but a will to think different. Aneesh Chaganti, the director and writer of Searching, proves that the crux of every flick remains in its plot.

The Searching movie unfolds beautifully as a thriller, as it progresses with plenty of frantic moments that will keep you on your toes. You are basically playing the father of a girl who goes missing and the mystery that it piggybacks along is simply killing. You are trying to find her throughout the movie with limited clues that appear next to nothing. Literally going through her laptop to figure out what path did she traverse before she disappeared.

In doing all of it, it tries to buzzer in the question of how distant technology has made us to each other. What it also shows at the same time is that you can also do a lot of things with the help of technology.  Thus driving that rusty nail further in – it is both a boon and a curse per se.

Destroying Boredom

In a movie where it is easy to foretell (blame the trailers for that) that it is going to be all about staring at a screen, Searching doesn’t do badly at all. It shoos off boredom like a good novel when you are only a few leaflets deep. You wade through its suspense right from ground zero and you cover up every possible answer that’s ringing in your head. You are secretly imagining yourself in the shoes of a father and you are busy creating a theory yourself.

still of John Cho in Searching movie

When you watch David Kim (John Cho) up on his toes you basically become the detective yourself. You are thinking of all the ways you could figure out the solution yourself. As David does all that himself, you are right beside him, reasonably checking everything he does, off your list too.

To beat the boredom of staring at screens, Searching movie uses facetime aplenty. Video calls depicting how we call our siblings in the real world too, and sometimes all those people we wish to see while speaking to. David does all that in order to elicit an answer. Aneesh makes sure it is all not boring by introducing characters that matter upfront and make everything appear quite realistic to look at.

Leveraging Suspense

The Searching movie quickly takes refuge from becoming a tragedy to suspense when it unfolds a knotted thread throwing light on the events of the crime. It opens speculations up early leaving you guessing. There are countless moments in the movie when you think you have figured it out, but you end up coming back to ground zero again. It is these ups and downs that dictate its flow, and that’s why you are never bored.

The movie builds up suspense to the maximum at first not revealing its key plot and then as you move forward, gradually leaving things for you to feed on. It doesn’t reveal everything, by keeping things under the wraps and then tries to give you one treat at a time for you to truly savour the taste.

The final revelation is something that you weren’t expecting at all. Also, the way it ends is quite gratifying to watch. You are constantly rooting for this hero who you have epitomized, batshit worried and when you finally get to see things fall in place it feels really good.

The Plot of Searching Movie

Aneesh finds a way to show the distance using a family calamity as David’s wife Pamela Nam Kim (Sara Sohn) succumbs to a disease and dies. That’s like a turning point in the life of David and daughter Margot (Michelle La) and the repercussions form a small unseen corner inside the head of the latter.

David and Margot end up being estranged even though they are not aloof physically, regularly chatting and seeing each other on various occasions. One night Margot goes missing when she was out with her friends in a group study, so the father thinks. But then the story unfolds as the father gets to know that she didn’t go to the study group. Checking in on with her Piano teacher, he realizes that she had left learning Piano long ago.

What had she been doing with all her piano money?

David checks that there is a transfer of 2500$ from her account to a deleted Venmo account. He informs the local police and a detective is assigned to him. Enter Detective Vick (Debra Messing) who finds out that the Venmo account was basically a fake ID created by Margot – a simple case of running away.

Do You Really Have a Friend?

David realizes he didn’t know any of his daughter’s friends. That in a way he was distant. Then turns toward Facebook to contact all her friends to ask them about her whereabouts. This is one of those moments that compels you to ponder. You have all those so-called friends on your FB account and they are just there. They are not really your friends but acquaintances, the hi and hello people that you rarely see, let alone meet. So cold!

As he calls them up one by one, there’s not a single person who has a clue about her whereabouts. Makes you shudder! One day you go missing and the world has no idea about you. They know you are alive only because you posted about yourself. What have we become?

None of these friends are close to her. David prods more and discovers that Margot had a YouCast (vlogging) account and that a user named  fish_n_chips used to chat with her a lot. He also discovers that Margot used to frequent lake Barbosa which he then visits for clues. He contacts Vicks on finding something of hers and then informs Vicks.

The Brother

Her car is found dumped in the lake while the money is untouched. The lead once again goes cold. It is through the crime scene photos that David finds a jacket which he then links to his brother Peter (Joseph Lee). He checks out the conversation Peter and Margot had and becomes furious, plants cameras inside Peter’s house as he tries to elicit a confession. In a quick emotional outburst, it is revealed that the brother was simply giving her pot. On being instigated about what kind of an uncle he was, Peter points out how bad a father was David as he didn’t know what went inside the head of her daughter.

 I didn’t know her. I didn’t know my daughter.

John Cho and Joseph Lee brothers in Searching movie

Lost in a painful introspection, his thought gets hindered when Vicks contacts David telling him that they have found the culprit. In a video confession, the presumable victim confesses about killing the girl before killing himself.

Broken David is browsing through Margot’s vigil service when he discovers the same girl in fish_n_chips’ profile picture in an advertisement. On digging further he finds out that the image was basically a stock photo ergo revealing fish_n_chips to be someone using a fake account.

As he tries to contact Vick, he unearths that it was the detective who had volunteered for Margot’s case, that she wasn’t assigned. As he becomes suspicious of Margot, he comes across an image of Vicks with the same guy who had claimed about killing Margot before suiciding. Smelling funny business about the detective he contacts the Sheriff as a cavalcade of policemen with David come to arrest her.

The Real Story

After being apprehended the real story is revealed. The so-called fish_n_chips was basically Vick’s son Robert who was trying to catfish Margot. Vicks was simply misconstruing facts to save her son. Robert, after stalking Margot, had befriended her and then earned her trust revealing that he needed 2500$ for a family emergency. Gullible Margot had complied and ended up giving him the money through Venmo.

It is almost like a lesson not to get lured by the internet. Anything evoking your sympathy tends to often misuse it. You have to be really wary in the monstrous world of today, where any amount of emotional sympathy is taken as a sign of weakness. Predators are forever on the prowl trying to make a fool out of you. You have to not give in or they will swallow you.

Robert felt guilty and he wished to return the cash but he didn’t want to reveal his identity to be fish_n_chips. So he followed her one night to the lake and surprised her by sneaking into her car. She attacked her which didn’t end up good as he pushed her down a ravine accidentally.

The Cover Up

Freaking out, he had called his mother almost immediately who took matters into her own hands in order to save her child. She didn’t even bother to go looking for Margot presuming her to be dead. Vick then dumped the car into the lake and manipulated evidence, then forced one of her ex-cons to confess before murdering him. The location where Margot was dumped is discovered as the police and David go straight to recover her. Luckily she is found breathing.

As an aftermath to this whole tale, we see Margot being serious about her piano lessons and through their chat messages that the father and the daughter had ended up becoming close.

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The Absence of Emotional Trauma

The Searching Movie might not be high on emotions since you are basically looking at a screen at all times. That disturbance of not seeing a face for long spans takes away a lot of emotions. If it were not for good acting and the great direction, the Searching movie might have appeared as a badly made video. But then that is something that separates a good filmmaker from an amateur. John Cho does ample justice to the character of a worried father who is constantly on the lookout. He makes the character very relatable.

Aneesh Chaganty proves why he is the next big thing in the industry. Why he is different and how he thinks different. How he was unafraid to make a movie feel entirely like a vantage point, something that people are really afraid to give a shot to. It is a bold choice but he comes through owing to the sheer suspense and thrill it exhumes.

Apart from that, the Searching movie is also not so much high on theatrics as well. Well du-uh! But if someone is looking for some gut-wrenching music to drop in, that wouldn’t be something that would be happening here. It is also less cinematic mostly because it is the screen you are staring at that basically feels like your own laptop screen for most of the time. How can that be cinematic right?

The Final Verdict

In a world that chugs its engines on social media and internet Searching movie becomes something that you relate to almost immediately. Because that’s how you have been witnessing your world now. Then you are well aware of the scams that have been duping people and catfishing innocents that feel so unjust and unfair but is extant nevertheless like every evil element that feeds on the less fortunate.

Like this review? Check out some other reviews of thriller movies as well.














  • Extraordinary thriller
  • Packs in a great story
  • Brilliantly directed
  • A Genius Creation
  • John Cho


  • Not Cinematic
  • Scores less in drama
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