Searching: A Tale of Technology and Terror

Many believe that Silicon Valley holds the future for our society.

Many believe that Silicon Valley holds the future for our society. Technology companies dominate the landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area, intent on creating the most innovative, creative, and unique technological advancements possible. In the past decade, technology has become the world’s focal point, surrounding our lives. Yet, its full capabilities remain unknown.

These questions that technology has raised are certainly not new to Hollywood, with countless science fiction and fantasy movies exploring the dangers and potential of technology. But Aneesh Chaganty soars in his debut full-length feature film Searching, where he seeks to engage with these popular ideas in a brand new way—with a thriller. Winning numerous accolades before its official premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Searching tells the story of David Kim (John Cho) whose daughter Margot (Michelle La) suddenly goes missing two years after the death of her mother. Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing), the detective assigned to the case, and David earnestly attempt to find Margot and discover the hidden truth behind her unexpected disappearance.

What makes Searching so revolutionary, however, is its integration of technology throughout the entire story. Chaganty filmed the picture in a manner in which the entire movie is displayed to audiences from screens: Macs, websites, social media sites, Facetime calls, surveillance camera footages, text messages, TV news coverages, etc.. This style adds a new layer to the film and, in many ways, marks the beginning of a potentially new genre of film.

But Searching is a phenomenal film even without technology, arguably one of the most creative film concepts of the year. The story is riveting, with numerous plot twists, moments of suspense, and emotional drama weaved into the plot. At its core, Searching is 90 minutes of excitement and pure fun. One cannot help but become engrossed in the mystery of what happened to Margot Kim, what secrets she was keeping from her family, and why she disappeared. The twists are perfectly crafted; Chaganty strikes the perfect balance between too little and too extreme, and the curve balls thrown at audiences only add to the thrill of the mystery.

Additionally, within Searching, though, lies a deep rooted social commentary surrounding technology. Chaganty uses the platform as a way to indirectly yet conspicuously discuss these themes. In the case of Margot, technology provides an outlet for escape after the tragic loss of her mother, an event that causes her severe emotional stress. Yet, technology comes with great risk, and for someone in a situation like Margot, dangerous people on the Internet can appear particularly enticing for support and connection. Searching reflects how technology truly is a powerful, double-edged sword that is changing the way we connect, work, live, and yes, watch movies.