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film review

John Cho stars as David Kim in Screen Gems' SEARCHING.ELIZABETH KITCHENS/Screen Gems

  • Searching
  • Written by: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
  • Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty
  • Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing
  • Classification: PG/ 102 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

The slasher hit Unfriended from 2014 helped launch a new sort of sub-genre – let’s call it cyber-horror. Involving Skype and the supernatural, the film can be seen as a parable for our frighteningly hyper-modern times and a comment on the dangers of the anti-social internet.

On another level, filmmakers who use laptop screens and Snapchat exchanges as visuals are simply speaking in languages young audiences can understand. And don’t forget, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a well-placed emoji is worth more than a few chuckles. Unfriended (and its sequel Unfriended: Dark Web) was produced by Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian-Kazakh filmmaker behind Searching, a clever twist-and-turn thriller about a missing daughter and a cyber-sleuth search for clues by her father.

The latter is played by John Cho, the Harold of Harold & Kumar fame. The suspense is satisfactory; the pace is well-sustained. What really clicks, though, is the message: We leave digital bread crumbs everywhere we go, and if our secrets are not safe, neither are we.