Searching @ Fantasia Film Festival

Producer Timur Bekmambetov is on quite a roll. This is the fourth film he has either produced or directed which involves computers or technology. All show us the dark side of technology and go a long way towards making us fearful of the electronic devices, apps, etc. that we use every day. Unfriended: Dark Web and Profile are two that are being screened at this year’s Fantasia. All films are told from the point of view of people using computers or cell phones. The action happens via a screen where you get plenty of POV shots. This one is a mystery or a who-done-it.

David Kim (John Cho – Star Trek, Identity Thief) has not had an easy life. He is a single father raising a teenage daughter by himself as his beloved wife (Sara Sohn – Fast & Furious 7) succumbed to cancer a few years previous. As if that was not enough now his daughter Margot (Michelle La – first film) has mysteriously disappeared.

When Margot does not come home after school on Friday David starts to worry. Believing she has gone off on a camping trip with friends that she did not tell him about he relaxes…a little. But when the friend she was supposed to have gone with calls David and tells him that Margot did not go camping he calls to report her as missing.

Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing – from television’s Will & Grace) is assigned to the case. As she looks into things from her end she instructs David to try and find out as much as he can about who Margot’s friends were. Hacking into her Facebook, Tumblr and Cast accounts, he begins to realize that he does not know his daughter very well. This is going to make finding the missing teen even trickier.

It is amazing to me that John Cho is a good actor. I mean, for a guy who made his reputation on those silly Harold & Kumar films he can actually act. The film rests largely upon his shoulders as he is on screen for around 90% of the time. He has to show us a man who is falling apart looking for his daughter and as time goes so does his ability to cope. Cho makes the pain the father is feeling palpable.

The suspense is aptly built by co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty (first feature film) with plenty of red herrings and twists planted within. He has certainly installed plenty of small details which point to bigger things within the film. What the film does really well is to keep away from being predictable. It is, when you think about it, a story which has been told time and time again about a parent frantically searching for a missing child. This is one is told in an original way, so does not feel tired in the least.

There were some points which seemed a little cheesy or that they went a little far and then there were those really fake news reports they kept showing. But it did not go so far off the rails that it overshadowed the strong qualities of the film.