The 'Searching' Ending Is So Shocking That You'll Simply Never See It Coming
Major spoilers ahead. In Searching, out Aug. 31, a father (John Cho) and detective (Debra Messing) work together to find the dad's missing teen. David Kim can't believe that his daughter Margot would voluntarily run away from home, while Detective Vick continuously suggests that Margot could have chosen to go missing. The Searching ending eventually explains why Detective Vick has so adamantly suggested a runaway case, with the shocking twist that Vick's son thinks he's killed Margot. The movie then reveals that Detective Vick, who everyone has thought to be a "good guy," actually has misled David the whole time.
As if the twist about Vick's malicious scheme isn't enough, David then realizes that Margot could still be alive even though she was pronounced dead days earlier. All of the surprises at the end of Searching cause the movie to have an overall shocking effect on audiences. And since those major plot points happen so fast though, your confusion would be justified, especially since the clues have all been in front of you the whole time.
If you want to go back to re-watch Searching, that's completely warranted, but you may as well go through a play-by-play explanation to help you wrap your mind around the stupefying end.
The First Major Twist: David Finds Out That Margot Was Catfished
When David finds a different photo of the girl who Margot had talked with on a video-chat site, he realizes that the person who talked to Margot about having a sick parent and working at a diner in Pittsburgh probably lied. David discovers that Margot's online friend had used a stock photo of a red-headed girl, and he manages to track down the phone number of the stock photo model. The model reveals that the story that Detective Vick had told David about checking on the person in Pittsburgh was fake — but it doesn't make sense that Detective Vick would lie.
That wasn't the only lie that Vick told David, though, because then the mourning father finds out that Vick had volunteered to take on Margot's case rather than getting assigned to it.
Twist #2: David Realizes That He's Seen The Man Who's Confessed To Killing Margot Before
David looks back through his first search about Detective Vick, and you see the same results that came up earlier on in the movie. But, at the end of the film, a man from the picture of Vick building a home jumps out from the screen. David then realizes that Vick personally knew the man who posted a video confessing to murdering Margot. It became all too clear that Vick hasn't been helping David at all, and at this point it seems like she may have plotted to murder Margot and then tried to mislead David.
Twist #3: The Truth Comes Out After Police Arrest Vick
Finally, Detective Vick confesses to attempting to cover up Margot's death because her son had catfished Margot and then pushed her down a steep ravine after Margot confronted him about lying to her online. Vick explains that her son hadn't meant to kill Margot, and that she desperately wanted to protect him from going to jail, so she tampered with the search party. For instance, during the search around the lake where Margot's car was found, Vick told the rescue team that they didn't need to search for Margot around the ravine where, she knew, the teen's body actually was.
Twist #4: Margot Is Alive
Even though Detective Vick had believed the fall had killed Margot, David held out hope that, thanks to the rain that came days after Margot's disappearance, Margot might have lived. It turns out that she has, as she apparently could drink the rain water to stay alive, regardless of the injuries she sustained in the fall.
As shocking as the ending to Searching is, it's overall a happy one. In the last scene, you hear Margot talking to her dad on the phone, having gone to the hospital to deal with her injuries. It seems that the two's relationship has been repaired, especially since David finally tells Margot that her late mother would be proud of her.