Theatrical Release: August 31, 2018


After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Dove Review

David (John Cho) devotedly searches for information about his missing daughter, Margot, through social media accounts, messages, and forums, and an unsettling picture emerges of how her digital life differed from her real life. He discovers that she eats alone at school, she doesn’t really have friends, and she’s collecting money for piano lessons and using it elsewhere. The hunt continues, and more disturbing suspicions emerge, including drug use, abduction, sexual misconduct, rape, and murder.

The screenshot storytelling of Searching, with its twist-and-turn plot, gives us a rolling display of how technology connects, convolutes, and disconnects life. There’s a myriad of clues; yet, the possible solutions seem infinitely frustrating, as webpage leads to webpage. For David, each step towards finding Margot is a tragic reinforcement of how little he actually knew her.

In the era of the Internet, Searching shows how people are still people, capable of both damage and devotion. Through the perspectives of technology and humanity, we may consider the film’s title two ways. There is the searching that a computer does: clinical, emotionless, and mechanical. There is the searching that a father does: devoted, emotional, and human. A father’s devotion, though flawed, drives the story, and there is the potential for some positive conversations regarding relationships and technology. However, due to the amount of disturbing sexual and violent content, illegal drug use, negative themes and language, Searching is not Dove-Approved.

The Dove Take

Mysterious and unsettling, Searching displays a glimpse of our society’s obsession with life online, including the depth of depravity it can create.

Content Description

Faith: Prayer is mentioned, but it’s difficult to tell if it’s genuine or not.
Integrity: A father searches tirelessly for his missing daughter; a husband seeks to help his wife when she has cancer.
Sex: Sexual references and dialog; a disturbing suspicion that a teenage girl had a sexual relationship with her adult uncle (later understood it did not happen); sexually vulgar dialog, comments, usernames, and emojis; a girl says she knows how babies are born, and searches “entercourse” online; sexual assault is mentioned; someone online asks a teenager to flash the webcam, and she blocks the person; “pimp” and “perv” are mentioned.
Language: Swearing includes the F-word and S-word, “Dumba**”, “G**D**n”; God’s name is taken in vain.;“Scr**wing around”; vulgar and mean comments, usernames, and emojis. The F-word is typed, yet censored; pimp”; “perv”
Violence: Much is implied instead of seen, yet may be disturbing. Discussion and descriptions of violence includes blood, abduction, a fistfight where someone’s jaw is broken, sexual assault, suicide; a character is bruised and cut on the face; two characters struggle; anger; a crime scene is seen with blood; an injured character on a stretcher; someone struggles with, and passes away from, cancer.
Drugs: Drugs are a plot point; discussion of drugs; graphic drug use, including by teenagers, and smoking from a pipe; marijuana is seen in a jar in a kitchen; offscreen, an adult character gives his teenage niece marijuana and they smoke together multiple times; a prescription bottle is seen; cooking wine; teenagers and alcohol
Nudity: Form-fitting and revealing clothes, including on teens; girl’s bare legs; boys are shirtless
Other: A jumpscare; lying; catfishing (ficticious online identity); mean and rude comments; an authority figure is untrustworthy. Imagery of the cross is associated with bad characters at least twice.


Company: Unknown
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Genre: Mystery
Runtime: 102 min.
Industry Rating: PG-13
Reviewer: John. P