Like "found footage" before it,"single screen suspense" is steadily becoming the latest storytelling fad in genre cinema. 2014's Unfriended spun an entire supernatural chiller using only a series of computer monitors, while its sequel, Unfriended 2: Dark Web, has been making the festival rounds (and, to my surprise, is quite good). Timur Bekmambetov's Profile played pretty well at SXSW this year, chronicling a reporter investigating the online recruiting methods of ISIS.
It's simply a new way to tell a story onscreen, an attempt to craft drama out of something most of do every day (stare at a computer screen). Now comes John Cho in Searching, where a desperate father uses all of the tools the Internet has to offer in order to find his missing daughter. If the trailer is to be believed, this transforms into one tense little mystery.
Check it out:
I had a director pal say to me a while back, "there's nothing less cinematic than watching people talk on the phone", and that notion keeps echoing in my head as I watch this new mode of storytelling. Admittedly, this is a "me" problem, as filmmakers should always keep striving to push the medium and the ways they use it to tell their tales forward with each piece of cinema. Still, it's going to be hard for me to work up enthusiasm for this budding "subgenre", as I stare at a screen all day myself. Why would I want to go watch a movie where the silver screen is simply reflecting that mundane activity I engage in 40+ hours a week?
Anyway, Searching hits theaters August 3rd. If people get hyped about it (which is what happened with Unfriended 2), I'll probably watch it anyways.