If you’ve read my laments before, you might’ve picked up on the notion that I can’t stand most found-footage films. I also bitch a lot about movies where the whole damn thing happens on a computer screen, with the director finding cute ways to never cut away from Skype, FaceTime, Words with Friends or whatever the hell a character is doing while the plot unfolds. Searching is strange, in that I actually almost like the way director Aneesh Chaganty uses computer screens, apps and news reports to tell his story. I also really like the central performance by John Cho as David Kim, a slightly annoying parent who discovers through a break in technological communication that his daughter Margot (Megan La) has gone missing. What I can’t forgive is the terrible detour the mystery takes into ridiculous, convenient and unimaginative territory. The screenplay really blows it in the end, especially with the help of a stiff and strange performance from Debra Messing as a cop assigned to Margot’s case. It’s not as bad as Unfriended or your average found-footage movie, but Searching is pretty bad all the same. I’m seriously hoping that the existence—and moderate success—of films like this doesn’t have some Hollywood scribes dusting off old, rejected TV scripts thinking they can repackage them as computer screen thrillers. Let’s stop with the computer screen movies, OK? They’re just a tad hokey.

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