Searching appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite unusual visual choices, the image looked mostly good.
Given that so much of the film takes place on computer and smartphone screens, this inevitably led to some lackluster definition, but these moments remained modest. Most of the movie came with positive delineation and accuracy, so the soft spots weren’t an issue.
The source meant occasional signs of jagged edges and shimmering, but again, these failed to become a real concern, and they reflected the source. Edge haloes stayed absent, and I saw no print flaws, though the forms of photography led to digital artifacts in low-light shots.
Colors went with a low-key palette that delivered a light teal tone, but nothing extreme. Much of the image felt fairly natural, and the Blu-ray replicated the tones with accuracy given the limitations of the screen-based visuals.
Blacks were reasonably deep and tight, and shadows generally felt fine. The source leaned toward some murkiness but these issues didn’t become a concern. Given the nature of the film, I thought this was a pretty positive presentation.
Don’t expect sonic fireworks from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it largely adhered to the limitations of the screen-based methods. That made Searching different than many found-footage movies like Cloverfield, as those expanded the soundfield well beyond the scope of the “original photography”.
Searching did that at times, as it expanded outdoor shots to open up the soundscape in a moderate manner. However, it did so in such a gentle manner that the effects continued to feel largely centered and without the auditory theatrics one would get from a traditional movie.
This left the film’s score as the dominant elements across the five channels. The track allowed the music to spread around the room in a positive way that added involvement to an otherwise mainly subdued soundscape.
Audio quality worked fine, with music that appeared vibrant and full. Effects lacked much impact, but they appeared pretty accurate and they showed good range when allowed.
Speech offered concise information that lacked prominent edginess or other issues, though the nature of the source occasionally created a little roughness. Given the nature of the film, I thought the soundtrack worked fine.
As we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Aneesh Chaganty and writer Sev Ohanian. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific look at story/characters, sets and locations, cast and performances and various technical challenges.
That last topic dominates the commentary, as we learn a lot about the movie’s unique style and related choices. A lot of the track works well, as we get good notes about the “Easter eggs” and different concerns. We find too much praise along the way – often in a self-congratulatory vein - but there’s still more than enough useful material to make this a largely good discussion.
Two featurettes follow, and Changing the Language of Film goes for 11 minutes, 25 seconds. It includes notes from Chaganty, Ohanian, and actors Debra Messing, John Cho, Joseph Lee and Michelle La.
“Language” looks at the movie’s roots and development, Chaganty’s past at Google and its influence on the film, various cinematic techniques and technical challenges. Some of this repeats from the commentary, but “Language” still becomes a tight overview.
Update Username runs seven minutes, 34 seconds and features Messing, Cho, La, Chaganty, Lee, and Ohanian. We get notes about cast/performances and how they dealt with the movie’s unusual choices. It brings another solid little show.
The disc opens with ads for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Slender Man, Boundaries, Venom, The Girl in the Spider’s Web and UFO. No trailer for Searching appears here.
A thriller with unusual stylistic choices, Searching works surprisingly well. While its techniques veer into gimmick category, the filmmakers integrate these choices smoothly and allow the movie to come together in a tight manner. The Blu-ray brings largely positive picture and audio along with some informative supplements. Searching provides a clever way to present a pretty standard story.