The Winonan

Film in review: “Searching”

The+Winonan%E2%80%99s+film+reporter+rates+%22Searching%22+4.5%2F5+stars
The Winonan’s film reporter rates

The Winonan’s film reporter rates "Searching" 4.5/5 stars

The Winonan’s film reporter rates "Searching" 4.5/5 stars

Blake Gasner, Film Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The general concept of a film taking place entirely on a laptop screen sounds claustrophobic, gimmicky and just straight up awful. Comparisons can be made to the found footage genre, which caught fire with films like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Paranormal Activity” and “REC” producing successful installments in the horror genre, but never really evolving into much else than a popular format to scare audiences. When the screen life film entered the popular consciousness with the release of the “Unfriended” films, similar sentiments were felt. The general consensus being this format can provide thrills but little substance in characters, storytelling and technical craft. Allow me to change these negative sentiments by offering up the solution to your September movie blues.

Enter “Searching,” a 2018 thriller broadcast to audiences through the protagonist’s computer, phone and television monitors. When it feels like there is little to see at the movies this month, “Searching” offers much to audiences with interesting characters, tense storytelling and innovative technical craft, all departments the found footage genre never found its own footing (or shall we say “footaging”) in.

The premise is simple: David Kim (John Cho), a man whose daughter, Margot (Michelle La), mysteriously disappears, utilizes all the online resources he can muster to find her and uncover the mystery behind the disappearance. Considering the film is mostly just broadcast to us through his computer monitor, it just shouldn’t work. Considering the film smartly positions itself throughout with clues to the mystery’s ultimate answer, it just shouldn’t work! Considering the movie attempts to establish itself with heart-throbbing emotion in the first ten minutes through an “Up”-inspired opening montage, IT JUST SHOULDN’T WORK! But it does, and it succeeds with glorious results.

There is an aspect of visual story telling which is lost through the transmission of a film through a laptop’s home screen. The availability of powerful images and camera movements is noticeably hindered, but “Searching” makes the most of what it has regardless. Much of this credit goes to the film’s producer, Timur Bekmambetov, who founded a software prior to the film’s production, which allows the screen camera more flexibility in its movement. This camera mimics the human eye, directing us to where we need to look for the film to deliver its most satisfying moments of surprise and answer.

The filmmakers show mastery over this practice by demonstrating entirely relatable moments of characterization via how characters interact through their various screens. The simple typing, deleting and retyping of a text message to his daughter unveils abundant context into the relationship between David and Margot, removing the need for blatant exposition.

Just when the film’s format is about to start sliding more towards the gimmicky side of things (which is inevitable with a film in a format as unconventional as this), the story moves in a new, interesting direction, re-investing the audience. These surprises never feel forced. Clear evidence is distributed throughout the film intertwined with exceptional red-herrings. Cho’s worried, frustrated and heartfelt performance as the father forced to sort through all this unclear information is perhaps the greatest highlight of the movie. He’s our emotional guide into the all-too-familiar spider web of the internet.

The portrayal of our digital age in “Searching” could have easily been one-sided in its depiction, but it instead serves as a tremendous reminder of both the dangers and benefits to humanity’s newest frontier and the importance of using media literacy whilst navigating it.

Consensus: “Searching” demonstrates a pioneering practice in fresh filmmaking, further enforced with a powerful performance by Cho and topped off with a twisty, thought-provoking story sure to surprise even the cleverest viewers. 4.5/5

About the Writer
Blake Gasner, Film Reporter

Blake Gasner works as the current film critic for the Winonan. He is in the midst of his first year with the paper, but his love for cinema is years in the making. Upon discovering the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films on VHS at a young age, Gasner’s imagination became hooked with the storytelling medium. He decided to attend Winona State as a Film Studies and Creative Digital Media major after seeing “La La Land” as a senior in high school.

Movies have greatly effected the course of Gasner’s life for the better multiple times, and he hopes to repay the art form through his work with the paper and future work as a filmmaker. Alongside his position as a film critic for the Winonan, Gasner is also a Resident Assistant in Lourdes Hall and the Vice President of the WSU Film Club. When not involved in his campus activities, it should come as no surprise that Gasner enjoys watching movies, as well as journaling, exercising, and spending time with close friends.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Entertainment

    Horoscopes

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Entertainment

    Film in review: “A Star is Born”

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Community

    Dog of the week: Darwin, the pitbull

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Community

    “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” comes to Winona State

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Entertainment

    Most anticipated films in 2018

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Entertainment

    Horoscopes

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Community

    Karate Chop, Silence: profile on a local band

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Entertainment

    Horoscopes

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Community

    Dog of the week: “Hyper” Piper

  • Film in review: “Searching”

    Commentaries

    Film in review: “The Predator”

The Winona State University Student Newspaper
Film in review: “Searching”