VFX Searching- A fascinating thriller told through a computer screen

Review: ‘Searching’- A fascinating thriller told through a computer screen

This wide world is surely entangled in the web. We cannot imagine our daily lives without fidgeting with our gadgets and engaging ourselves on social media. The world has come a long way since the first computer was invented by Charles Babbage in 1822. Since then, it has brought the world to our fingertips. Cut to 2018, here’s a film that turns a computer screen into a full-length feature film.

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty, Searching is a well-knit thriller that brilliantly executes the complexities and problems that today’s tech-savvy generation, at times find themselves into. The film revolves around David Kim (John Cho), a widower, who when discovers that his daughter Margot is missing, embarks on a digital quest through her computer, phone and social media history.

John Cho in ‘Searching’

Searching has all the twists and turns a mystery thriller is supposed to have. Through the way, the audience along with Cho, discovers secrets about Margot’s personal life as it eventually unravels through her different social media accounts. Almost entirely told through the lens of the devices we use everyday, it provides a refreshing and relatable aspect to the film. The majority of the film takes place on David’s Mac, where we see him in a window when he’s video chatting or browsing the internet.

Searching opens with the typical Windows XP login screen and the initial few minutes gives us a peek into the Kim family as we watch Pamela, David’s wife, creating user accounts, setting up her email and collecting family photos. The digital collage of their lives help us understand the characters and their actions better which sets the mood of the film. 

Co-written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, Searching proficiently shows how screenlife films can be actually cinematic. A former filmmaker at Google Creative lab, Chaganty created a lot of narrative that normal people would understand, incorporating screens and technology. Perhaps, it’s this experimentation with technology that enables Searching to cut across multiple devices and myriad perceptions. The camera is always on the move with close-ups of iMessage chats and Facebook feeds that makes the film compelling. Even the computer desktops tells different stories and soon one feels entrapped in confusing web of files and folders.

Cho, Messing and Chaganty

The film moves forward with the investigation of missing Margot as Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) comes on board and takes on the leads one after the other. She also asks David to join the team as it’s him who kept on providing the most essential leads. The film is extremely gripping with an unexpected twist at the end, that keeps the thrill alive.

Apart from Cho and Messing, Searching has a notable cast starring Sara Sohn (Pamela Kim), Michelle La (Margot), Joseph Lee (Peter), Steven Michael Eich (Robert), Erica Jenkins (Hannah) in prominent roles.

The visual effects are smartly executed that didn’t allow the audience attention to waver for a single time and kept them hooked to the computer-screen film. The visual effects team includes Ekaterina Averina, Justin Giritlian, Aleksandr Gorokh, Dmitry Grigoryev, Oksana Guseva, Sergei Kleymenichev, Mikhail Lazukhin, Stas Lebedev, Yaroslav Makarov, Natalie Safronova, Alessandro Schiassi, Alexander Starkov, Alexey Uskov, Valeria Volkova and Nathan Weiner.

Michelle La and Sara Sohn in ‘Searching’

Cho and Messing’s FaceTime chats were recorded with small GoPro cameras, rather than a single camera pointed at them. Nicholas Johnson and Will Merrick seemingly had a mammoth task while putting the film together. Edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, this hyper-modern thriller is intelligently crafted with care and similar emphasis given to the content.

Produced by Timur Bekmambetov, Sev Ohanian, Adam Sidman and Natalie Qasabian, Searching is a tale that also explores the father-daughter relationship dynamics besides warning us about the darker side of social media by leveraging the power of technology.