The Movie Searching is Found Footage Done Right

The Movie Searching is Found Footage Done Right - or how the medium of the movie matters way less than the actual story! And Searching gets that.
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Many modern movie goers are not fans of found footage films. You don’t like wobbling cameras and you especially don’t like the artifice and thin story telling that barely holds found footage threads together. “Uh, dude, why are you filming right now.” Reminds me of a Snow on the Bluff actually – wherein, the main character steals a camera, and then tells someone to record everything, and don’t stop. Really? Ok. I guess. But the movie Searching, while technically found footage, is a totally different take on the genre. Instead of recording with an awkward camera, this time, all the interactions happen via the computer. Facetime. Chat messages. Image logs. Websites. Security cameras, and the like, all funneled through computer screens. While the idea isn’t totally new, it is a really innovative and clever way to solve the problem that weighs down found footage.

searching movie explained discussed

Which brings me to the movie Searching. Which, can I just say, is possibly the worst named movie, of all time? Seriously. Think about it, Me: “search for searching movie thing please” Google: “Please go ahead… what movie would you like to be searching for?,” I digress. The movie is about a father, whose daughter, goes missing. The father, David Kim, (who is played by John Cho of the new Star Trek series) begins his search for her, and as he does, we see everything he does from his computer’s vantage point. Face time sessions. Texting. Web searches. Security cams. News websites. Whatever. Anything that hits the laptop’s screen is what we are watching. Simple enough? I have done a ton of found footage types of film reviews, and some that are well off the beaten path. They can be a lot of fun. I personally think it forces the director to think outside the box and write creatively. But who knows, maybe the entire genre is completely spent. AND YET! We have Searching that says we aren’t! So there!

Spoiler Filled Walkthrough of Searching

I’m going to do a blitzkrieg walk through, because the movie, while just fine, isn’t out of this world. And yet, it’s 100% better than the next Marvel film drivel Hollywood will be throwing at you bi-weekly for the next 25 years. (No, no I am not bitter about this fact. Not at all.)  Basically there are a couple clever twists here that I will detail out. If you haven’t seen the film, do yourself a favor and check it out before reading any further. It is a worthwhile watch, but only if you don’t spoil it first, that is! 

So, things ratchet up a notch or two for David when he realizes that his daughter hasn’t been going to piano lessons anymore. That Margot (played by Michelle La) has actually been banking the money, and now has taken out $2500 in order to buy a fake ID. Right? I’d flip out too if I were him. Anyway, after reporting her missing, his case is assigned to San Jose PD Detective Rosemary Vick (played by Debra Messing). Who is decidedly helpful, concerned, and really supportive of David in this his time of need. But she is of the mind that Margot has taken his money, gotten a new ID and run for it. David though, learns from Margot’s social posts that she liked to go out to a place called Barbosa Lake… where the police find her car, and the $2500 still inside. But no Margot. David then suspects his brother, Peter (played by Joseph Lee) because Margot and he used to get high together. Immediately after the car is found, Detective Vick tells David that a man named Randy Cartoff has confessed to Margot’s killing. Oh, by the way? Randy committed suicide after his confession.

But eventually David learns through his daughter’s computer that she had been streaming videos of herself on a social media platform named YouCast. And on that media site, Margot chatted a lot with someone named fish_n_chips. The profile photo for fish sort of stands out, but David can’t place her. Eventually he learns that the photo was just a standard stock photo, and that the person behind the account was actually catfishing Margot. But, who? 

searching movie explained discussed

The Right Hook of the Movie Searching

Which brings us to the final reveal of this zig-zagging movie that is Searching. But before we get there, let’s review. Margot is a run away. Margot is abducted or hurt by David’s brother who has been doing drugs with her. Margot was sexually assaulted and murdered by an ex-convict. Oh, no, and the convict committed suicide? You up to date? We on the same page now? Then, David finds out that Detective Vick volunteered for the case and his eyes are completely opened. And as David learns more about Vick, he stumbles across a photo of the detective with his daughter’s supposed murderer from a few years before. And just like that, David contacts the authorities and Detective Vick is brought in for questioning.

Final Searching Movie Revelation

It is during questioning that the movie takes its most pedantic turn. We learn that Detective Vick’s son, Robert was the user riding the Fish_n_Chips name on YouCast. And using the information he had about her, he convinced her that he was having financial problems paying for his mother’s “cancer surgeries”. So Margot takes the money out and attempts to give it to Robert. But Robert felt guilty and gave the money back to her. And worrying that Margot would reveal who he was, he followed her to Barbosa Lake. And, upon getting into Margot’s car to “talk” she freaked out, and Robert ended up pushing her off the ledge. Robert then called his mother, and Detective Vick pushed the car into the lake. She also convince Cartoff to admit to murdering Margot, and then Vick murdered Cartoff. And the pièce de résistance? Margot was still alive 5 days later because of the rain that had happened earlier in the week.

Thoughts And Ideas Regarding Searching

Having some graphic design background in my past, I found the interfaces and the designs of the film really fascinating. Recreating all the screen interfaces and the authentic look of the different desktops the film ran on was intriguing. Old Windows, Mac, iPhones, all were represented here. It must have taken a ton of work to compile the different artifacts and pull this look off. I mean, here, look at this quick overview of what it took to pull this film off.

Currently begging the editors of this movie for an interview, who knows. Some would rather chat with John Cho… me? I want to talk to the writers and the editors. They are the ones that get me going. 

But regardless, I do think the movie went soft in the last 5 minutes. Margot turning up alive? And Detective Vick saying, YUP! YOU GOT ME. Let me tell you absolutely everything I did… because the audience has GOT to be somewhat confused with all these twists and turns. But otherwise, I really enjoyed the movie. The gimmick of the screens only worked because the story was so clever. Overall though? I really thought the story well done. I thought the twists were inside out. And the acting, as tough as a medium it was, was really done well. 

I don’t know. What did you think of it? 

Edited by, CY