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Why you will ban your kid from Social Media after watching this movie

SEARCHING is the first of its kind - a thriller movie starring the Asian American, John Cho. The movie genre, ‘Father searching for his daughter’ was popularized by Liam Neeson in TAKEN and Denzel Washington’s MAN ON FIRE. It’s a mystery where the hero must use his only skills and the few resources he has at hand like his daughter’s computer in SEARCHING. The movie was also written by the first time director, Aneesh Chaganty who happens to be Indian Asian American. SEARCHING is also co-written by Sev Ohanian.

John Cho is a Korean American actor known more for his comedy in the Harold and Kumar franchise. He was also the first to star in a short-lived ABC comedy sitcom Selfie with Karen Gillan (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, STAR TREK).

As SEARCHING is a thriller, we care more that John’s character finds his daughter than the fact that he is Asian American. He plays a recent widower that never really mourned his wife’s death. His response was to bury himself in his work thereby neglecting his daughter. He seemed more obsessed about taking out the trash than her well-being. He also behaved like the typical parent on autopilot concerned about test results and studying and she responded in kind like a google auto-response, “Fine.” As his brother suggested, “You never even listened or talked to your daughter before everything went down.”

First Time Filmmaker

The film is an outbreak in that it takes place almost entirely online with no boiler-plate shots like ‘master, single, single’. It’s strictly webcam shots, security cameras or news footage. Aneesh’s experience from his short film, ‘Seed’ shot through google glasses helped him in this cinematic challenge.

Parent's Worst Nightmare

In many ways, SEARCHING is a horror movie for it leads us through a parents’ nightmare. Did their teenager fall into the dark recesses of internet? Did she reveal too many details where someone identifies her and kidnaps her? But the daughter’s mistake of over emoting online becomes his greatest resource as John Cho’s character scans through thousands of clues. This roller coaster is precisely what Aneesh wants us to take.

Tragedy Breeds Popularity

One of the most telling moments of the films is the online phoniness of so-called ‘Facebook friends’. These ‘friends’ manipulate their followers for their own narcissism. An example is when a girl denies being the daughter’s friend in real life and later posts a teary video about being BFFS. It’s that they turn the daughter’s tragedy about them to gain empathy points and likes on their social media pages. It’s a sad commentary on today’s outrage Olympic culture.

And this movie also illustrates that those social media posturing campaigns do impact people in the form of John Cho’s character. And John’s acting was so good that we believed him to be that frantic father looking for any clue to find his daughter. Does he click angrily? Scroll frantically or inquisitively? How does the acting come across on the computer when most shots of him were in the close up range? It’s an acting challenge for John had little to nothing to act against in this limited webcam view of him. His onscreen daughter, Michelle La, also killed it with her performance that had just the perfect touch of vulnerability.

Even from the movie poster we see John Cho’s face which begs the haunting question,” What happened to his daughter?”

My overall conclusion is that this movie is gripping from start to end. Kudos to the writer and director of the movie SEARCHING! I can’t say enough about the film and how it’s as relevant it is today. Our worst nightmares lurk online as well as our darkest deepest secrets.

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