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This entertaining popcorn thriller has a thing or two to say about our lives online.
What to call this fiercely original movie? A Facebook thriller? A Google noir? Its missing-girl mystery plays out almost entirely on screens, using social media apps and chatrooms like Raymond Chandler used to use dive bars and dark alleys. The footprints being followed here are the digital kind, of course, and they’re all the scarier for that. You’ll walk away with a new awareness of just how exposed we all are to malign forces online.
The missing girl is LA high-schooler Margot Kim (Michelle La), a seemingly well-adjusted teen. But in a touching, Up-like opening montage of family snaps and videos, we discover a sorrow that lingers over the family. When Margot vanishes, her dad David Kim (John Cho, terrific) turns to her search history for clues. Things, he quickly discovers, are not what they’ve seemed. Not even close.
Debut director Aneesh Chaganty shifts through the gears from there, maintaining enough visual flair to keep the conceit cinematic. Strip away the tech trappings, though, and you’ll find the same joys that powered ’90s thrillers like Presumed Innocent and The Fugitive: red herrings, a tireless detective (Debra Messing) and whiplash-inducing twists. Not all are subtle – David’s sleazy young brother may as well carry a ‘bad egg’ sign – and the rules of the film are, well, fluid, but with this many ideas flying around, you can forgive a dud or two. See it, then go home and chuck your laptop in the bin.
By Phil De Semlyen
Trailer via QQ