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Aneesh Chaganty
John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee
Writing Credits:
Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Box Office: .
Opening Weekend:
$6,066,463 on 1207 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Supplements Subtitles:

102 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 11/27/2018

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Aneesh Chaganty and Writer Sev Ohanian
• “Changing the Language of Film” Featurette
• “Update Username” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Searching [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 29, 2018)

For a thriller with a modern-day technological twist, we head to 2018’s Searching. After the death of his wife Pam (Sara Sohn), single father David Kim (John Cho) does his best to raise his teenaged daughter Margot (Michelle La).

When Margot doesn’t respond to his attempts to contact her, David grows increasingly concerned. This links him to Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) – and also sends him deep into Margot’s laptop and digital identity, as he attempts to piece together clues to her disappearance.

That last comments brings the “modern-day twist” I mentioned, as director Aneesh Chaganty makes an unusual stylistic choice for Searching. Rather than stage the film via traditional methods, Chaganty presents the material solely via laptop and smartphone screens.

That’s a clever move, though I find it hard to view it as something that will catch on and become used by others. Though Searching feels like a 21st century Blair Witch Project, the “found footage” genre seems better equipped to a variety of subjects, whereas this film’s reliance on digital communication comes across like a one-off.

Whether or not that prediction holds true remains to be seen, of course, but at least for Searching, this technique gives the movie a certain charge. At times the focus on all things digital feels like the gimmick that it is, but Chaganty manages to integrate the choices in a largely seamless manner.

This means we pretty much forget about the gimmick after a while. Of course, the fact that so many of us spend much of our lives absorbed in computer or smartphone screens helps, but I still appreciate the fluidity with which Chaganty manages to tie together the different methods.

Chaganty makes this work via strong pacing. The film doesn’t dally too much on various long scenes, so it moves at a good rate and doesn’t allow us to get bored.

On-screen much of the time, Cho helps ground the effort. Stuck as a Facetime presence through a lot of the flick, Cho still manages to create a believable personality, and he allows the story to come across as convincing despite some outlandish elements.

The latter turn into the movie’s biggest flaw, as it goes down some silly narrative routes at times. This isn’t shocking for a thriller, as they often need to ignore logic to progress, but we still find a few too many eye-rolling moments here, especially as the story builds toward its climax.

Despite these erratic moments, I still think Searching becomes an engaging drama. It uses its technological gimmick in a clever way to turn into a pretty good effort.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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