Aneesh Chaganty's newest film isn't about a guy looking for his missing daughter. It's not about what's new and improved in social media. It's not about our vulnerability on social media and the internet. And it's not about why a parent shouldn't give $100 to their child every week without question.


"Searching" is about how little we know about the people around us. How little we know about our children, our neighbors, our siblings, our children's friends, etc. Time and time again we see on the news a parent sobbing over the body of their child whom they didn't know was a criminal mastermind or a wife who didn't know her husband was a pedophile, or a person who didn't know their coworker was a serial killer. Chaganty's film illustrates this ignorance.


He cast John Cho as a recently widowed father of a teenage girl who is trying his best to keep things "normal" for his kid. Cho plays Dave Kim, father to Margot (Michelle La) who is still grieving over the death of her mother, to whom she was very close. But she's going along with her father's efforts and continues to be a good daughter and student. So David thinks.

She tells her father she is going to her friends house to for an overnight study group and never comes back. Using his daughters various chat channels he finds out that Margot didn't go to a study group that evening. Moreover, the more he plows through her contacts , the more he finds out that his daughter didn't actually have any friends, wasn't taking piano lessons and was pretty much a loner all this time.


With the local police detective Vick (Debra Messing) on the case but coming up with dead ends, Dave hacks into all his daughters devices and learns that he really knows nothing about her. Her life was a sham and he wonders how he could not have known haw she really was since he believed they were close. And what's his brother Peter (Joseph Lee) got to do with her disappearance.


To be honest, the average mystery lover will figure out this thriller within the first 30 minutes, despite the number of false leads Chaganty throws in the narrative. It is the direction and the acting that draws you in and keeps you there. Cho is perfect as the unwitting father learning about his daughter and others around him.


The film's main perspective is from the computer, much like the "Unfriended" franchise only with real suspense and less blood. However, with the exception of Cho and Messing's salaries. I don't see this film costing much more than those two horror flicks.


There are a couple of holes in Michelle la's role and her story that will give you pause, but not enough to detract from the film.


"Searching" makes the digital device POV film entertaining and believable with strong performances, deft direction and fairly nifty writing. It will make you wonder about the people you think you know.   -- GRADE B --   GEOFF BURTON