In the new film Searching, which hits theaters Aug. 31, a father desperately tries to find his missing daughter. Movies about missing children generally have people on the edge of their seat, but this isn't your average missing persons movie, since it all takes place on a computer screen using the desktop's images and video messages. So just how scary is Searching? The fact that you never feel like you can see everything going on definitely contributes to the freak factor of the movie, and the film also has a lot of suspense that will frighten you for sure. As far as horror goes, though, you don't need to worry since the new mystery is more of a thriller than a gory scare fest.
Searching stars John Cho as David Kim, whose daughter Margot (Michelle La) uncharacteristically misses school, prompting David to wonder about what secrets the teen might have. When Margot doesn't return his texts or come home for another day, David really starts to worry, and he enlists the help of Detective Vick (Debra Messing) to help find Margot. As it turned out, Margot had hidden a lot of secrets from her dad, and the more that David investigates his daughter's online activity by searching through her computer, the more Margot's private behavior leads Detective Vick to suspect that the teen had run away from home. David refuses to believe that, though, and he ends up taking matters into his own hands by using his daughter's laptop to figure out the mystery disappearance.
Even though Searching doesn't include a lot of scary moments — for one thing, the movie's computer-screen format doesn't allow for a huge cast of characters beyond David, Margot, and Detective Vick — it might freak you out due to its familiarity. Due to its format, Searching looks a lot like what you see all day while you're on your computer, so it makes the story feel closer to home than you might feel comfortable with.
A movie about a missing child is frightening no matter what, but when you spend a significant amount of the movie watching David Kim search through Facebook to try to find some answers about his daughter's disappearance, it reaches a new level of relevance. In a lot of ways, Searching provides a step-by-step guide to how to use someone's computer to learn more about their private life. As it so happens, Margot's online behavior contributes a lot to solving the mystery of what happened to her, and it might make parents think twice before giving their kids unsupervised access to social media.
Even though a lot of what makes Searching so scary is how realistic it seems, it still has a deeply fictional foundation. It might be easy to get hung up on the fact that David uses Venmo to uncover a clue to his daughter's disappearance when thinking about how you use Venmo in your own life, but don't let that distract you from enjoying the suspenseful flick. It has so many twists and turns that you'd never expect from a movie told completely from computer screens, and you won't want to miss any of them.