Searching (2018)

A first-person Internet thriller, told entirely from the vantage point of a computer screen (the film commits impressively to this, never abandoning the conceit at all, even if it means the trope of “watching news footage on a website” is overused at times), and told with unusual detail and care. As a kind of cousin to the found footage genre, the mostly real-time progression of events on screen comes to emphasise process as the great drama and action of the story; realistic scenes of ‘hacking’, databasing, researching, they all land with painful relatibility thanks to the legitimately impress sense of verisimilitude the filmmakers achieved with their attention to detail.

The filmmakers take advantage of the novel format, not just transplanting a thriller story into there but actively using every new nook and cranny a first-person-always-on-screen story provides, telling what would normally be long story beats with surprising efficiency, and lengthening out tedium into fascinating, tense, relatable scenes of process.

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Even the format aside, it’s a strong (simple, without much depth, but strong) story well told, with a particularly excellent lead performance by John Cho, who delivers a nuanced, empathetic performance. An excellent, absorbing experience, told in a fascinating new way. Three and a half 2FA lockouts, and the old Windows XP loading tune.

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