WTF: Searching (2018)

Searching 02 SC High School 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

Searching 01 poster 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

Spoiler Alert:

I shall be looking at Searching, looking through its evidence and looking over its characters to find if we should look down on it or look up to it. So read on only if you’ve already seen Searching, or don’t plan to.

Watch SEARCHING here

[Note: you can click on any picture to enlarge it.]

Just saw how many hours I spent writing this synopsis

0:01:06 We see a computer booting up Windows XP in 2001 (the noise you hear is an old, dial-up modem that used the phone line to connect to the internet) when Margot’s parents create a user account for their baby. Margot is a newbie-born.

[N.B. This intro is to let us know the entire movie will be shown to us only via a computer screen, in found footage style. I’m excited, as everyone knows I’m the original found footage slut. 🐣 Easter egg: Note that the screen resolution for this film is 1600 x 900 to match the aspect ration of a standard computer screen.]


Searching 33 Easter egg Pokémon 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: Pokémon is a frequent theme in Searching. At the beginning, Margot doesn’t know what is when her father buys her a Pokémon shirt, then, in the very next scene, Pikachu is her wallpaper.]

0:02:51 We watch Margot get older (first piano lesson, first day of kindergarten, first day of school, first Mac, getting spammed when logging onto browser games…think Club Penguin). In fact, we watch her digital age.

Searching 25 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Oscar noms? We’re holding our breath!

[🐣Easter Egg: The teacher’s name on the board, Mrs Uraneck, is a reference to Carol Uraneck, the film’s art director.]

0:3:21 We learn through email headers that Margot’s mum, Pam (Sara Sohn), has cancer. I wonder if her doctor breaks up with people by text, as well.

[N.B. Ingeniously, we are able to track time through the media and software used. For example, the versions of Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player, or the introduction of YouTube, Ebay, Yahoo Messenger, Google, Facebook…all give us an indication of the year.]


[🐣 Easter egg: There are many subplots running through Searching, and I shall do my utmost to detail all of them. The first is the relationship between Margot and a classmate called Abigail. In this Yahoo Messenger Chat, we are introduced to the young ingenue.]

Searching 34 Easter egg Abby 01 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly


Searching 35 Easter egg Robbie 01 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Not like you’re spelling!

[🐣Easter egg: Writer / Director Aneesh Chaganty stated in an interview with The Nerds of Color that the emails in Korean from David’s mum are another story line, detailing her emigration from Korea to the US. More importantly, note that Margot’s childhood friend, Robbie, likes her piano video. We’ll be hearing a lot more from him, and not just in the comments section.]


Searching 36 Easter egg Alan Watts 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Exclusive Easter egg: Note the video recommendation in the side bar for English-American philosopher Alan Watts. The video foreshadows the death of Pam.]


Searching 37 Easter egg Facebook 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Multiple Exclusive Easter eggs! In the above screenshot note that in the upper, right-hand corner, there are references to #Deflategate, an American football scandal that happened on January 18, 2015. Also, to the mysterious #Dress viral phenomenon (what colour is the dress in the picture!?) that hit Facebook in the end of February 2015. This helps us situate the time. Then we see a post by Abigail, to continue her story line, and another post by a mysterious Anoop Chaganty, who is, in fact, a musician… and the director’s brother. More interesting is the Laura Barns reference. Laura Barns was a young girl who committed suicide after being cyber-bullied…in the film UnfriendedShe’s being referenced here in a nice tribute to the 2014 film, as it is also a found footage film which takes place exclusively on computer screens.]

Here’s a tweet from Anoop:

0:06:07 Cancer gets Pam in the end, and everywhere else. Margot’s father, John Cho as David Kim, designs an In Memory card himself on a computer because he loved her but loves insurance cash more.


Searching 02 SC High School 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
She looks like she belongs in high school 🍁🌳

[🐣Easter egg: In the photo of Margot and her dad on her first day of high-school, the sign in the background reads, “Evercreek High School, Home of the Catfish.” Interesting that a sign is the smartest character in the film.]


Searching 39 Easter egg Nug 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Note that in the above recommended videos list we have Nug which is an Aneesh Chaganty short, My Big Fat Armenian Family which is a film written and directed by Searching‘s co-writer Sev Ohanian, and The Cinema Floor Tapes which is a short from the USC film school by Michael Nader. I’m assuming Nader is close to someone involved in Searching, as his name appears elsewhere throughout the film.]

0:07:37 David facetimes with his daughter to reprimand her for not being like Pam on their first date and taking out the trash. Margot says she’s at a friend’s house for a study session. “You haven’t met her yet,” which is kid speak for, “It’s a boy I’m sleeping with / does a lot of drugs.”


Searching 40 Easter egg Is your child smoking marijuana 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: There are 2 videos on the suggested play list that are related to the plot. One is The Adventure of Grief, related to the plot line of David’s grief recovery, and the 2nd is entitled How to tell if your kid is using marijuana. The second one will make more sense in a minute…well, in 59 seconds. The Merricam video is discussed at 9:51. Also note the “Seeds” video is an advert for Google glass that was filmed by Searching director Aneesh Chaganty.]

0:09:01 This article is meant to let us know how long people can survive in nature (😉 hint, hint). Well, people who aren’t me. After 9 minutes with internet, I go into culture shock.

Searching 03 SC Imagine being attacked by 9 days 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Imagine being attacked by 9 days

[🐣 Easter egg: There are 2 videos of interest beside the photo. The top one mentions the SVPD (Silicon Valley Police Department) which is where Detective Rosemary Vick works and doesn’t exist in real life. The one under it starts yet another subplot, which is that of an alien invasion. This news link highlights an electrical anomaly NASA warns about.]

0:09:51 David’s younger brother calls to ask about a recipe. His name is Peter but he should be called ‘Back Yard’ because he has a lot of grass.

Searching 04 SC He cooks with herb 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
He likes to cook with a lot of herb

[N.B. Remember when Margot said she was going to study all night? We will later learn the guest ringing the doorbell is, in fact, Margot herself, and she’s not there for the Kimchee Gumbo.]

Searching 26 Easter egg Merrick video 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Note that a suggested video on the YouTube page is a steadicam video by Will Merrick. This is a real video by one of the co-editors / Directors of Virtual Photography / Mastermind of Searching. This link appears constantly throughout the first act of the film (see 8:52). More on him later…]


Searching 41 Easter egg Messages Hannah 02 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: Here we see a chat between David and his boss. Then we have the first clues in 2 new subplots: Hannah Couch and Dr. Aparna Vadlamani. Hannah, his potential love interest on the side (of the screen), responds to an apparent first date, saying she’d love to do it again sometime, and Dr. Vadlamani, who is David’s grief counsellor following the death of his wife.]

0:13:47 In the middle of the night, Margot calls twice and facetimes once but David is asleep and doesn’t hear. Margot has a lot of hang ups.

Searching 42 Easter egg Messages Prescription 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
David’s in the dark

[🐣 Easter egg: Note the prescription drugs David uses to sleep (because of his grief over losing Pam)–which also explain why he’s unable to wake-up and answer the phone.]


Searching 22 Easter Egg Appensure Chaganty 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: The company David works for, AppEnsure, is a real company co-founded by director Aneesh Chaganty’s father, Sri (see inset in photo above). Also note Michael Porter is leading the meeting. His name has popped up on David’s call list and they’ve exchanged text messages where he said he met his husband on St Patrick’s Day. (See 10:36)]

Searching 38 Easter egg Sidebar 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: Note the ‘Frequently Contacted’ list in the sidebar includes Hannah Couch and Dr. Aparna Vadlamani (see 10:36).]

0:16:02 The following afternoon, after several failed attempts to reach her, David realises Margot left her laptop on the kitchen counter. He assumes she came home from studying the night before and forgot it that morning. Why is this computer unmotivated? It lost its drive.

0:16:14 I love how he has to put his cursor on an image to look at it. I love it because I do the exact same thing.

Searching 43 Easter egg Drs list 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
The Doctor will CC you now

[🐣Easter egg: While looking back on old emails, we see a reference to David’s first appointment with the psychologist.]

0:17:24 David phones Margot’s piano instructor and discovers his daughter hasn’t had a lesson in 6 months, and has been evidently keeping the money. $100/hour is a lot to pay for his daughter’s silence.

Searching 05 Easter egg Piano teacher 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
She’s like a Beethoven work: Very composed

[🐣Exclusive Easter egg: The piano teacher pictured is Vartohi Ohanian, who had a minor role in My Big Fat Armenian Family and whose family name is the same as co-writer Sev Ohanian. Coincidence? No, she’s Sev’s mother!  They’ve kept her first name here and substituted her surname with that of expensive speakers. She’s not listed in the credits of Searching, but she is mentioned in the Special Thanks.]

0:18:58 David learns Margot hasn’t been to school. Seems he’s not the only one that’s failing her.


Searching 44 Easter egg If I ran away 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: David discovers his daughter’s Twitter feed is set to private, and that the trending topics are #Catfish (see 6:16) and #IfIRanAway. Also note that her Twitter handle is mkmania01, which stands for Margot Kim Mania. Margot is imitating her mother, Pam, who went by pkmania.]

0:21:44 After digging up his dead wife’s contacts, David unearths one of Margot’s friends’ phone numbers. The friend’s mum says Margot is camping in the mountains and so has no cell reception. We know this isn’t true because no one would make a movie about that.

Searching 27 Easter egg Robbie's card 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Robbie got carded

[🐣Easter egg: Before David clicks on Isaac’s name, he pulls up Robbie Abolt, who is the son of the detective that will investigate the disappearance. Pam wrote that one of his parents was in the SVPD and that they are were divorced, which explains why Robbie’s name is different from Vick’s. But Robbie has another link to the disappearance, and this is referenced in the note, “had a crush on Margot”. 😈]


Searching 45 Collage meme 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
How parents text

0:23:52 Isaac calls David to tell him that Margot didn’t join them on the camping trip. He says, “She never came.” David answered, “I didn’t ask about her sex life” — is what a lesser critic would write, but not I, for I’m far too professional.

0:24:16 David breaks down and reports Margot as a missing person, but he doesn’t say what she’s missing.

0:25:36 Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) calls. She says she’ll be there soon but she wants to talk to him on the phone because it fits the found footage format of the film. It also gives David a chance to internet stalk her. You can tell he’s a gentleman because he doesn’t finish his query with ‘nude’.

Searching 29 Easter egg Home Alone 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter Egg: On the Google page that pops up during his search, one of the links leads to an article explaining that she’s worked on both the Old Man Marley murder case and the Harry-Marv robberies. Both of these crimes are from Home Alone.]


Searching 07 SC Inspirational 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
The quote is inspirational, because it’s going to inspire her to do some crazy shite

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: This saying will come back to haunt Margot.]


Searching 08 SC Pros and Cons 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Pro & Cons because she’s a pro and they’re cons

[🐣 Easter egg: Sue Anna Yeh is a movie crew member thanked in the credits and Carmen Emmi is a director / photographer who went to USC. Also, remember these faces.]

0:28:24 David logs into Margot’s Facebook by having Facebook send a verification code to her Gmail account, for which he had a verification code sent to his dead wife’s Gmail account, which he had the password for (‘Margot0401’, her birthday) and was also Margot’s backup email account. It’s interesting to see how clever he is when it comes to the internet right now, because this will change faster than these passwords.

Searching 46 Easter egg - emails 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Exclusive Easter egg: While looking at her email, David doesn’t notice Margot’s uncle Peter and his daughter have exchanged 6 emails recently. Later on, this familiarity will breed contempt. There’s also an email from YouCast, a fictional Vine / Instagram Live platform that will become critical shortly.]

[🐣 Easter Egg: Note that Pam uses Yahoo for her email account. While that’s less common today, it was the number 1 provider when Pam would’ve started an account, so bonus points for authenticity.]


Searching 09 Easter egg Robert FaceBook 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Paul

[🐣Easter egg: In the above screenshot, the Facebook Trending Subjects has a reference to the alien subplot, as well as a nod from director Aneesh Chaganty to another director with Indian roots, and a big inspiration for Chaganty. There’s also an ad for YouCast (is this how Margot found it?), and on the left is a shortcut to the “I liked Pokémon before Go” group, to continue with the Pokémon story. Note that Robert (Vick’s son from 4:13, 21:44, and 25:50) is on Margot’s Facebook wall. In fiction, this is known as “foreshadowing”. In life it’s known as “I told you so.” ]

0:31:04 While using Facebook to put together Margot’s last few days before disappearing, David learns his daughter has no friends. I don’t know why he’s surprised, he ignores her himself, so why shouldn’t everyone else?

0:32:29 David calls Abigail, who hosted the biology study group the night of Margot’s disappearance. She disinterestedly says Margot left much earlier than she told her father. Maybe Margot wanted to do some biology self study. Like most women her age.

Searching 47 Easter egg Smartest biology partner 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Exclusive Easter egg: Continuing the Abigail story, here Abby calls Margot her “favorite (aka smartest) lab partner everrrr”. This is to let us know Abby doesn’t really consider Margot as a friend, but more as a tool. I should know, people often call me a tool.]

0:33:51 With traffic cam footage, Detective Vick finds out the night she disappeared, Margot drove off on a road to nowhere. Nature, in other words.

Searching 48 Easter egg Lost 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Like me in Maths, Margot was lost

[🐣Easter egg: Note the reference again to William Merrick (see 9:51), as well as Qasabian, which is a reference to Natalie Qasabian, one of the film’s producers. Exclusive: According to the Urban Dictionary, ‘Scheve‘ means ‘To steal someone elses [sic] pot smoking utensils.’ This will be clarified at the end of the film (see 1:29:58).]

0:35:18 The Bank of America website says Margot saved her piano money for months, then transferred a lump sum amount of $2 500 to an anonymous person on Venmo. Note to self: Change name to ‘Anonymous’.


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0:36:12 In Margot’s Instagram page, a user called derekellis6969 once reminded Margot to water her eggplant.

Searching 10 SC Purple Rain 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Purple Rain


Searching 50 Easter egg Agents 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: Jon Cassir and Praveen Pandian are agents.]

0:37:21 David calls tough guy Derek Ellis and has to raise his voice and make threats to discover when Margot went missing, Derek was at… a Justin Bieber concert. Now Derek’s the one who wants to disappear.

0:38:14 Vick says Margot used the money to buy a fake ID. Vick also says Margot sent the $2 500 to herself in some sort of narcotics money laundering scam. I like everything dirty except my money.

Searching 11 SC Very licientious 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Very licentious


Searching 51 VyVy Tran 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: VyVy Tran did the makeup for Searching.]

0:39:21 Vick tells David that Margot ran away like me from a corporate event.

0:43:41 David discovers Margot has an account on a site called YouCast, which is a fictional version of live streaming on Instagram. She has one close follower called fish_n_chips, who, like the food, you probably only want when you’re drunk.

[🐣 Note that Margot’s friend’s name is FISH _n_chips. What kind of fish is it? Catfish! See 6:16.]

Searching 52 Easter egg YouCast 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: The top trending caster is Aneesh Chaganty, recommended ‘Just For You’ is Anoop Chaganty and listed in hashtags is #greenlights, referring to the aliens.]

[N.B. This is the exact moment when the film slightly decreases in my esteem. Look at the avatar photo below. That’s the most generic, fake profile pic I’ve seen since teen chat rooms. That Margot doesn’t do a reverse image search I can understand, but David is presented as someone who’s computer savvy, and the fact he’s not suspicious of that photo is suspicious. I sat in the cinema, silently screaming at both of them that the profile is obviously fake–and did her folks not warn her about online predators?]

Searching 12 SC She looks very Fishy 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
She looks very fishy

0:43:02 Staying with the Pokémon theme, Fish_n_Chips gets to know Margot through a Pokémon question. Her favourite is Uxie, who has the capacity to erase memories. His is Kecleon, who has the ability to blend in with his surroundings…kind of like Robbie is doing right now.  Or maybe it’s Margot, because he sure is playing her.

[N.B. It’s interesting to note that Margot wants a Pokémon to forget the pain of losing her mum, while David does this with pills (see 13:47) and never once thought to ask his daughter if she needed help.]

Searching 53 Easter egg Pokéball 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
She’s got more balls than he does

0:44:23 Margot shares a video of an isolated lake, calling it her favourite place in the world. Apparently she’s never been any place good.

Searching 13 SC Swimming hole that'a a real dive 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
A swimming hole that’s a real dive

0:47:10 David pops in while Margot is streaming and we see him avoid the subject of his dead wife’s birthday (to show that he can’t broach the subject with his daughter). Instead he talks about the Voice elimination round, which is sort of what happened to his wife.


[N.B. Detective Vick tells David about how she covered up for her son when he scammed the neighbours by collecting money for a police charity that didn’t exist. On the official Reddit discussion page, director Aneesh Chaganty explains, “She irresponsibly opens up about a real incident in her and her son’s past, but at the same time…. it totally plants for the audience that Vick is the kind of parent who would do anything for her son. Our hope was that people by the end of the film would realize they haven’t been watching the story of a parent who would do anything for their kid. They’ve been watching the story of TWO parents who would do anything for their kids.”]


David: You don’t know how glad I am you were assigned to this case.
Detective Vick: I just wish there wasn’t a case to be assigned to.

She literally means that, except the part about being ‘assigned’.  She was no more assigned this case than homework.

0:51:36 David researches Margot’s ‘favourite place’ and learns it’s called Barbosa Lake [N.B. it’s fictional], which is 5 minutes from where Margot was last seen. She might’ve been going there to drown more than her sorrows.

Searching 14 Easter egg Will Merrick and Nicholas Johnson 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Note that the first result returned when Googling Barbosa Lake is a link to an Instagram photo posted by @ itswillmerrick, the real life handle of Will Merrick.  The post David clicks on, Barbosa Lake – South Bay’s Hidden Gem, was written by Nicholas Johnson and William Merrick, who were co-editors and co-directors of virtual photography on Searching.]

0:52:51 David hurries out to the lake in the middle of the night and calls Vick, who hurries out of the home while she facetimes with him. (Am I the only one who places normal calls anymore? Does everyone facetime now instead of phoning?)

Vick [to David]: Where are you? … Are you at the lake?

[🐣Except in his initial call to Vick, David only says, “She was driving to the spot she’s been visiting for the past five months.” He never once mentions a lake! #SheKnew]

0:53:05 Robert wakes up to see his mum rushing out of the door to meet David.

Vick: Robert, honey, just go back to sleep. Okay? Okay. I need you to stay calm. We’re going to figure this out together.

There is no way to know if that second sentence is meant to reassure David… or Robert. 🤔

[N.B. This next bit of dialogue is expertly handled, as well. Vick hears sirens and asks, “Oh my God, did you call the cops?” and we haven’t learned yet that it’s her biggest fear. But David gives us a hint when he repeatedly insists, “You told me she ran away, Vick!” This was the lie she wanted him to believe so he’d stop investigating.]


Searching 54 Easter egg James Comey 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: This is one of the many examples of the care taken with the film. In the news ticker, mention is made of Trump firing FBI Director James Comey. This happened in May of 2017, and is accurate with the timeline of Searching. The next one mentions the likelihood of storms, which do manifest at 57:16.]

Searching 55 Easter egg Storms 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly


Searching 21 Easter Egg NASA & Aneesh Chaganty 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Note the NASA saga with aliens continues with the news that an ex-NASA Chief says there is o support for the Extraterrestrial rumours. Also, the man in the photo is Aneesh Chaganty making a cameo.]


Searching 56a Easter egg ETs 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

Searching 56b Easter egg ETs 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: The news story above about the extra-terrestrials is confirmed in the ticker.]

0:55:32 Margot’s car is pulled from the lake and while this film is PG-13 in the US (meaning it’s impossible for a minor to die), there was some blood on the dashboard. I think the car is having a rough period.

[N.B. The Amber alert mentioned is a federal program in America to send out messages to everyone’s smartphone when a child is reported abducted.]

0:56:05 Detective Vick announces to the press that two zones have already been cleared. She crosses them off, but X marks the spot.

0:56:34 An envelope with Margot’s $2 500 was found in the wet car. Maybe she was trying to launder the money.

Searching 57 Easter egg Suicide 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: The aliens saga continues, this time with the confirmation that a NASA informant is killed by a gunshot made to look like suicide.]


Searching 31 Easter egg Poster 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: I like to think the above shot is a reference to how Margot survives trapped at the bottom of the ravine for five days by drinking rain water. In the poster, it looks as though the water is reaching her mouth. So I asked director Aneesh Chaganty about this on Twitter…]


Searching 58 Easter egg GreenLightning 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: Another reference to the #GreenLight.]

0:58:05 On social media, the search for Margot becomes a hot topic, where even Abby (see 32:39) weeps on YouTube and claims Margot was her best friend. #FindMargot is like an STD: Viral.

Searching 59 Easter egg Evan Tarantino 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Evan Trantino is a film producer.]

0:58:53 Derek Ellis comments on YouTube video that Margot is with him and that the cash found is from hooking. The only thing worse than a YouTube commenter is two YouTube commenters.

Searching 60 Easter egg Aliens & Abby 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: Trending on YouTube are the video with Abby sobbing and REAL FOOTAGE of the aliens.]

1:01:48 Vick tells David he’s not invited to the investigation anymore after a video of him kicking Derek’s arse in a cinema surfaces. The worst part was the amount of popcorn that was spilled. Don’t they know how much that was worth?


Searching 28 Easter egg Sev Ohanian Catfish 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: When a local funeral home sends him an email offering their services, we can see a list of other emails. One is from Hannah Crouch, expressing concern and offering assistance. Towards the bottom, there is also one in Korean, probably advancing the story of Grandma Kim’s exodus to America. The one directly beneath Hannah’s is far more telling. It’s sent by a Sev Ohanian and says “It’s obvious what happened: Your daughter was catfished by Fish_N_Chips.” How could this chap know the truth this early in the film? Because Sev Ohanian is the co-author of Searching.]


Searching 61 Easter egg Reddit & Abby 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: Aside from the mention of Reddit, we also have an article which states that Margot’s ‘best friend’ Abigail Nielsen held an ‘arts-and-crafts filled communion and vigil’ for the lost girl.]

1:03:52 While going over pictures of her car that gossip site TMZ uploaded, David spots a Fins hockey jacket. Margot not only didn’t play hockey, she couldn’t even get the puck out of there.

Searching 62 Easter egg Aneesh Chaganty 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: The last photo at the bottom of the TMZ sidebar is a cameo of director Aneesh Chaganty]

1:05:02 This leads David to Margot’s texts, where he sees a picture of his brother, Peter (Joseph Lee) holding up a Fins hockey shirt. David starts thinking there’s more than one way to score after he discovers she saw Peter the night she disappeared.

[N.B. Which brings me to another WTF about this film. David has loads of time and all the information at his fingertips but decides not to look through his missing daughter’s texts? Why wasn’t this the first thing he did?]

Searching 63 Easter egg Chat History 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: Notice that in the chat history, there are texts from Abigail (who now sincerely likes Margot), Aneesh the director, and the last one is from a bloke whose real name is Rick Santhanam who is a film crew regular and received Special Thanks in Searching.]

Searching 64 Easter egg Chat History 2 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: Lance Oppenheim is a young filmmaker, Raisa Bruner is a journalist at Time, and an Ellory Courvoisier is a media coordinator.]

1:05:48 In order to catch his brother’s confession, David plants small security cams all over his sibling’s apartment. Pretty normal activity.

1:09:52 Technically, Margot did score with her uncle, only it wasn’t sex, it was pot. Peter confesses that Margot wasn’t a skank but that they were smoking it.

Searching 15 SC Gagging for a smoke 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Gagging for a smoke

1:11:31 We’re reminded that David never talked to Margot about her dead mum, which is why she needed to get higher than Everest with her uncle. [N.B. Remember, she was the mystery guest who rang the bell at Peter’s before she disappeared. (See 9:51)]

[N.B. During this conversation, Peter tells David, “You wanna know why she hated those piano lessons? It’s because every time she would walk in, she would see that thing and think about her mother.” This is reinforced by all the times we saw photos and videos of Margot with Pam and the piano.]

Searching 73 Piano Collage 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

1:12:52 During this discussion, Vick has been calling David. He finally listens to her message, only to learn that they’ve arrested the man who murdered Margot. I remember watching this in the cinema and thinking, ‘If she’s not really dead, then my feelings for this film are.’


Searching 65 Easter egg 2 Alien vids 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Note there are 2 new videos about aliens on the news channel. One of them is about space research and the second is an emergency meeting with the president.]


Searching 66 Easter egg Producer kills editor 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: “Hollywood producer is prime suspect in murder of feature film editor!” 😂 Looks like an editor is Searching to make a joke, or felt some pressure, or both.

UPDATE: Searching editor / genius Will Merrick and I had the following exchange about this ticker on my Instagram post.]

searching 76 will merrick instagram 123wtf watch the film saint pauly

1:14:33 A man named Randy Cartoff uploaded a video confession, killed himself, and Margot’s DNA was found at the scene… On the other hand, this film is American PG-13. Regarding Margot’s premature death, which evidence carries more weight? 🤔

Searching 16 SC The people in the background ahve already seen the ending 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
The people in the background have already seen the ending


Searching 67 Easter egg Mass mailing 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: There are emails from David’s boss and his husband, Hannah sends her condolences, David’s psychiatrist reaches out, Arabo Sarkisian was in Sev Ohanian’s My Big Fat Armenian Family, a note from his mother, two messages from people whose last name is the same as co-writer Sev Ohanian, and a note from Arine Harepeti who is mentioned in the Special Thanks. Perhaps more interesting is the side note which states that a trending story is how the new ‘Super-Earth boosts search for nearby extraterrestrial life’. What this could mean is that the aliens visited the White House (see 1:13:12), have taken control of the country and are now reaching out to other alien beings.]


Searching 68 Easter egg Teacher 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: There’s a note from Abby expressing her now genuine sadness and a message from Kevin Lee, who is a teacher at the high school and whose name has popped up here and there, from time to time.]

1:19:51 When uploading videos for Margot’s memorial, David notices the face on a splash screen is the same as fish_n_chips. (See 43:41) He now has caught the catfish.

Searching 17 SC A two-heade fish 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
A two-headed fish

[N.B. It upset me that this is the big reveal, when I spotted it the second I saw the first photo.]

Results from his search include references to Juan Sebastian Baron, the cinematographer for Searching, and model Erica Jenkins, who plays the face of Hannah.

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1:21:14 WTF!? After he Google image searches her and sees all the trillion photos of her online on image sites, he calls the model and harasses her because he still thinks she was the one talking to Margot. He doesn’t understand how a person can upload a photo that isn’t them to a website!?!?!? Auuggghhh! His permit to exist in the 21st century needs to be revoked.

1:22:22 David learns that Vick volunteered to run his daughter’s case, when he’d been led to believe she’d been assigned. I can confirm because I, too, am suspicious of people who volunteer to work.

1:23:04 Going back to Google, he finds the photo of her building site (see 25:58) with a familiar face. Though the face is now a bit changed after he had some work done with a bullet.

Searching 18 SC Two heads are better than none 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Two heads are better than none

1:25:51 Because David conveniently connected to the funeral service’s live feed before he left, we’re able to see him confront Vick in the church as other officers arrive to arrest her. Church is a great place to get her confession.

1:27:11 David is now watching Vick’s interrogation and confession on his Mac. This is because the majority of the film takes place on his Mac, but it’s a little ridiculous imagining the police emailing confession tapes to private citizens to watch at home. #truercrime

Searching 70 Easter egg Confession 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Like a woman with an obese lover, Vick wants to get something off her chest

[🐣Easter egg: If you click on the above image, you’ll be able to read the cops’ email detailing the NDA David signed.]

1:27:32 Now, we have a visual of the confession with phone calls, Google maps… in which Vick explains her son Robert called her and told her he accidentally pushed a girl off a cliff. She fell for him in the worst possible way.

1:28:08 Vick explains Robert had loved Margot since grade school so he catfished her on MyCast, using what info he already had about Margot to trick her into friending him. He was the catfish, but she fell for the bait.

1:28:48 WTF!? Apparently Robert also created a bank account for ‘fish_n_chips’ because Margot sent $2 500 there in order to help with the fake girl’s fake mother, who was dying of fake cancer (which is the best kind to have).

1:29:58 Robert decided Margot might act badly if he gave her the money at school, so he decided the best plan was to jump into her car unannounced in the middle of the night when she was parked on the shore of an isolated lake where nobody knew she was. That way, he figured, the only way she could act badly is in this film. But when she ran away and fought him off, the plan changed to ‘push her into a deep ravine’. Margot died as she lived, over the edge.

[🐣 Exclusive Easter egg: During her confession, Vick says Margot was smoking marijuana when Robbie found her. As we can imagine Margot didn’t own drug paraphernalia, she must’ve taken it from her Uncle Pete. Remember the map at 33:51, where I told you that ‘Scheve‘ was slang for stealing someone’s pipe or bong?]

1:30:42 Instead of calling SAR (Search and Rescue) that night, Vick decided to abandon the girl at the bottom of the drop-off and take over the investigation to clear her son. She can play good cop / bad cop with herself.

Here are the steps she took:

  1. Pushed the car in the lake
  2. Made a fake driver’s license to…
  3. Convince David Margot ran away
  4. Kept Margot’s hard drive
  5. Told law enforcement the area Margot was in had already been searched
  6. Drugged up an ex-con and “fed him a script” (he did not look drugged in his confession and why would he confess to murder and attempted rape of a minor? Because she ‘fed it to him’? WTF!?)
  7. Kills the ex-con

All of that to keep her son out of jail. I was lucky if my mum remembered to buy food for me when I was young.

1:32:28 LOL, looking at helicopter news footage combined with Vick’s confession we see the police SUV turn around as it’s taking Vick to prison. Because David Kim knows his daughter’s alive because it rained one day so she could still have enough water to live at the bottom of the cliff for 5 days. Margot isn’t the only thing to hit rock bottom, she took the ending with her.

1:33:28 WTF!? The ‘ravine’ that Vick said was too dangerous to scale in the dark is nothing more than a path down a small hill! If she didn’t check up on Margot, maybe it’s because she knew it was impossible to die from rolling down a gently sloping trail.

Searching 19 SC I've seen stoners with more inclination 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
I’ve seen stoners with more inclination

1:33:30 I also like how rescuers refuse to use walkie-talkies to let David know his daughter is OK. They kept quiet after they went down there long enough ago that they had time to wrap her up, tie her to a stretcher, harness the stretcher to a winch at the top of the hill and then pull her up. I don’t know who they’re torturing more, David or we who are meant to believe it!


Searching 71 Easter egg Flickeringg star 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣Easter egg: In Yahoo news, mention is made of an unusual star. If my theory about aliens taking over the government and calling to other extraterrestrials is correct (see 1:16:30) then maybe these are the beings who are responding…]

1:35:20 Margot who didn’t die and her father are chatting about how they’re fake worried about her piano application. The chances of her not being accepted are the same as her being dead at the bottom of a footpath. Or the chances I’m going to like this ending.

Searching 20 SC Grt a grip on yourself Margot 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
Get a grip on yourself, Margot, and stop making your dad do it

Searching 23 Easter egg sidebar 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Easter egg: Note that in the message sidebar, Margot tells Isaac (camping bloke) she’ll see him this weekend (so she’s back to having friends again), the piano teacher asks if her recommendation to the conservatory was satisfactory, and she tells Derek (rude boy) that he can piss off, no doubt because he IMed something gross. We also have the end to the Abby sub plot, because she’s reaching out to Margot so hard that Margot has to tell her in no uncertain terms to piss off.]

1:35:58 Yay! 🙌🏼 He texted that Margot’s mum would be proud of her! All the problems he had communicating are completely gone forever and they can live happily ever after! Maybe this film is called ‘Searching’ because I’m searching for a better denouement.


Searching 72 Easter egg Spotify 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

[🐣 Exclusive Easter Egg: The penultimate shot is of a Spotify playlist that very cleverly also serves as a credits card! Timur Bekmambetov, Ana Liza, Maria Zatulovskaya, and Adam Sidman are producers of Searching (Sidman also produced Hardcore Henry, another film I’ve reviewed here and loved).  Pavel Bozhkov is Mr. Bekmambetov’s assistant and both have listed Model Minority, which is a concept that a specific ethnicity is better at some things than the public at large (e.g. Asians are better at maths). Note that all of these people are listening to the same artist: Anoop Chaganty, Aneesh’s brother. In the ‘now playing’ section, we have Torin Borrowdale, who is not only Searching‘s composer but the composer for many of Chaganty’s projects, while Ramela Ohanian is an actor and surely related to co-writer Sev Ohanian (see 1:16:30). Arabo Sarkisian (see 35:57, 1:16:30), like Ramela, was also in My Big Fat Armenian Family and in the Special Thanks for Searching.]

Roll credits


Tally Ho’

  • WTF!?’s: 11 ones found in Searching
  • When to Follow: If you’re looking for a well-plotted thriller told in a unique way, this movie is for you. You don’t even have to like found footage as much as I to appreciate this one.
  • Where’s This Found: I won’t lie, initially I didn’t find what I was looking for in Searching. But while putting together this synopsis, I developed a huge amount of respect for the work, the attention to detail, and the care that went into making this film. Let’s just say once I was lost but now I’m found. While the story is a little rushed at the end and the miracles that save Margot still don’t sit well me, technically this film is a masterpiece. Uncovering all of the subtle clues while writing this article gave me a deep appreciation for its flawless editing and structure. When all is said and done, I give the film a recommend, and am willing to go higher if Sev or Aneesh comment on this article. 😉 Out of a possible 10, I have 7 F’s to give I have 8 F’s to give [because Sev Ohanian not only commented at the bottom of this post, he said it “Immediately went to the top of my list of things ever written about our film.”]

  • What To Feedback: Answer the following poll!

Note: If your favourite is not on the list, please mention it in the Comments!

Also, there are two Easter eggs I was not able to uncover. If any of you have an idea concerning the identity of Max Liberman or Toby Nubzz, please let me know in the Comments!


Since publishing this synopsis, I’ve received incredible feedback from Searching writer / producer Sev Ohanian that I’d like to share withe you here.

It all started with the comment you’ll see at the bottom of this post, where he states:

Wow. Immediately went to the top of my list of things ever written about our film. THANK YOU!

Almost immediately after, he tweeted:

Then he went to my reddit post and commented:

Holy crap you are amazing. You found things that no one else has ever found (like for instance that we put our agents in there.)
Your jokes and puns are insanely funny btw ahahaha.
And I never knew that “scheve” one. Gotta talk to our editors about that lol.

These gestures, combined with Will Merrick’s shout out on Instagram, made this post worth the time and effort I put into it!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on Facebook!
It’s the easiest — and nicest! — way to say ‘Thank you’.

[N.B. I used this very informative Reddit page— especially comments by u/plw37 — and Nerds of Color interview as research tools for this review]

Left Over WTF (Way Too Funny) Photos

Left over photos

Searching 75 SC Daddy issues 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly
It’s the cover for the daddy issue

Prints suitable for reposting!

WTF!? do you meme?

Searching 24 meme Fake ID 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

Searching 74 meme bad ending 123WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly

What to Follow Up

WTF Review

A 123WTF explanation of another found footage mystery

Bar None Review

A Bar None Booze Revooze of another found footage film

360 Weird Movies

360 Weird Movies looks at Computer Chess

WTF!? on Facebook

WTF!? on Twitter

WTF!? on Pinterest

WTF!? on Google+

WTF!? on Tumblr

WTF!? on Instagram

6 thoughts on “WTF: Searching (2018)

  1. I’m really hoping you’re someone involved with the making of the film! 😉

    UPDATE: You’re welcome, Sev, and thank you!

    How do I know it was writer / producer Sev Ohanian?


  2. The orientation of the CA DL is also a clue. Teen’s DL is oriented vertically instead of horizontally showed in the movie, which means the DL is a fake one made by the detective.


  3. Something I noticed (don’t have a time code sorry) was at one point you can see that David’s messages to Margot go from blue iMessages to green SMS. I had to pause and tell my wife this (she’s a Samsung owner so it wouldn’t mean anything to her) as I was sure it meant *something* given that everything in the movie is controlled and not by accident. It never came up, so I’m presuming this is the time when her phone battery dies and it reverts to try sending an SMS if you have that option enabled. It goes back to iMessage later because David boots up her laptop and that reestablishes an iMessage connection.

    Also David my man, computer savvy and didn’t think to load up Find My iPhone? I think the behavior has changed since the film was made, but it now would show the last known place of the phone even if it was no longer responding.


    1. Hallo Jay!

      Thanks for the comment. As someone with equally good taste as your wife (i.e. I’m a Samsung fan, as well), I didn’t pick up on that either! Thanks for the insight! Also, that’s an excelllent point about the ‘Find My Phone’ feature! Even if he couldn’t do it himself, surely the police would be able to execute that function through the provider.

      WTF!? Jay (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly


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