Saturday, 1 September 2018
This is both a thoughtful and thought-provoking film. The premise is simple - and I won't spoil the plot. As a lone parent, David Kim's (John Cho) 16 year-old daughter goes missing one night. The film is about how David deals with the loss and the ensuing investigation which entails lots of searching. Loss is the central theme of the film.
What sets this story apart is that it is largely told from the perspective of social media - see the picture above. Unsurprisingly, dad realises that he actually knows very little about his teenage daughter's world and circle of friends. Armed with only her laptop, he explores the many apps she used and sets about trying to piece together her last movements and who may have had contact with her. Kim spends much of the film frantically searching browsers, SMS, FaceTime, Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr, reminders, calendars, Google Maps, Venmo and even webcams. The film is about both outward and inward searching.
This is a gripping thriller that maintains a good pace as various people fall under then out of suspicion. A lot of the story explores family dynamics and it is in this area that it invites viewers to engage in self-reflection about their familial relationships. How prepared would you be if a family member disappeared this evening? No need for paranoia here, but just think through how you respond to this question. We still all need our secrets but do you know enough to track someone down?
The film offers a good expose of the weaknesses and failures of speculative TV and radio journalism. It also shows the wide range of motivations that drive people when a community responds to a request for help. Many are well-intentioned and some are plainly narcissistic.
The film premiered at Sundance and was warmly received. It was snapped up by Sony for only $5M for world-wide distribution. Many will say it is simply a clone of Unfriended but that would be too simplistic. This film has many things to commend it and chief among them are the way the film was written and Cho's gripping performance. It has just come out in cinemas in the UK - do go and see before it disappears. I'll give it 8/10.