As David Kim (John Cho) searches for his missing daughter, the investigation and discussions he has with others all unfolds before our eyes. Taking place entirely on computer and mobile phone screens, pulling together clues and information from social media, messaging services and CCTV.
While there have been a couple of fairly decent horror movies recently employing this method of storytelling, I don’t feel that any of them have been as slick and effective as this. The movie begins on a fairly basic Windows XP computer as David and wife Pamela begin setting up their user accounts and start uploading videos and photos of their lives and newborn daughter Margot. As we see emails being opened and calendar entries being made, we get a pretty good overview of Margots early years in just a few short minutes. It’s simply done, and it works extremely well, managing to pack a real emotional punch just with a few mouse clicks.
Moving forward a few years and the Kims are now on Apple Macs, fully embracing iMessage, FaceTime and YouTube in order to communicate and organise their lives. When Margot fails to return from a night spent studying, and father David cannot contact or locate her, the use of these services and more are used to try and locate her.
It’s these early investigation scenes that really worked well for me. David quickly switches between iMessage, email and voice calls, then onto social media accounts belonging to Margot, gradually piecing together a better picture of her life. It becomes apparent that he doesn’t really know much about his daughter or her life at all, and as he begins to uncover secrets, the intensity grows. The power of the internet, and the dangers of social media become even more apparent.
Later on, as the use of on screen apps expand to include CCTV footage and news coverage, I felt that the impact and effectiveness lessened slightly, but it was definitely not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment. This was edge of seat, intense drama with a few unexpected (for me anyway!) twists and turns along the way.