Co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty sustains his gimmick for 100 minutes—only for his plot to sabotage the finale. That gimmick involves a story told entirely through computer screens, videos, text messages and social media accounts, as widowed dad David Kim (John Cho) faces the horror of having his 16-year-old daughter Margot (Michelle La) go missing. The narrative device allows for an intriguing exploration of contemporary parent/child dynamics, as David only begins to understand who his daughter is through her electronic footprint. There’s also great, darkly funny material about performative grief, and off-hand reminders to “never read the comments” as strangers begin to assume that David must be the perpetrator himself. Then the story turns into a conventional thriller—with police detective Debra Messing leading the investigation—and while it’s initially fascinating watching the tools at any savvy person’s disposal to find a missing person, the resolution becomes a hugely disappointing exposition dump. This is a whodunnit where whodunnit doesn’t really matter, as much as exploring the scary reality of how much of our lives is now lived virtually.
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Producer: Timur Bekmambetov, Sev Ohanian, Adam Sidman, Natalie Qasabian, Maria Zatulovskaya, Ana Muravina and Igor Tsay
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, Alex Go, Thomas Barbusca and Gage Biltoft