Filmmaker Sophie Kargman’s Susie Searches is an expansion of her 2020 short film and the comic thriller is a solid feature debut.
I love a good thriller but there’s something about Susie Searches that makes it stand apart from other films. At first glance, this looks like a regular ol’ whodunit. But as we dive in and learn more, it becomes something completely different. You see, most films, let alone TV series, would not do their big reveal so early in the movie. Audiences tend to know more than the characters just by nature of how this genre usually works. However, filmmaker Sophie Kargman changes the game here by showing us early on just who did it and their planning. The thriller aspect comes in how to stop others, including the local sheriff’s department, from figuring it out. That’s where the fun comes in watching the film.
Susie (Kiersey Clemons) is a college student with a true-crime podcast. Neither she nor her podcast are particularly popular with anyone. Because she’s an intern at the sheriff’s office, she takes advantage of a missing YouTuber and college student, Jesse (Alex Wolff), and drives traffic to her podcast while growing in popularity after she solves the case. But is there more here than meets the eye? It certainly seems that way. I mean, she’s a nobody on her campus and works at a fast food restaurant with Jillian (Rachel Sennott) and Edgar (Ken Marino). At least until Jesse’s disappearance comes along and classmates like Jed (Jared Gilman) ask her out.
This is one of those films where people unfortunately get caught in the crossfire so to speak. It’s a casualty that comes with trying to do their own investigation. But again, it isn’t a surprise when you see how the film approaches things. One of the things I like about the film is the media aspect and scrutiny with regards to the kidnapping. If the victim were Black, would it be the same level of reporting or would they just go about their day to the next case? It’s something to think about.
Rachel Sennott has broken through in a big way with Shiva Baby and Bodies Bodies, Bodies. If you’re coming into the film expecting a bigger role for her, please prepare to be disappointed. The large majority of screen time, and rightfully so, belongs to both Kiersey Clemons and Alex Wolff. The fact that this film features a reliable comic cast means that it’ll not be disappointing. When you have a film with the likes of Jim Gaffigan and David Walton working at the sheriff’s office, it’s sure to be good!
Susie Searches relies on a comic cast but Sophie Kargman’s funny and thrilling feature debut shows that she has a bright future ahead.
DIRECTOR: Sophie Kargman
SCREENWRITER: William Day Frank
CAST: Kiersey Clemons, Alex Wolff, Dolly Wells, Ken Marino, David Walton, Rachel Sennott, Isaac Powell, Alex Moffat, Geoffrey Owens, Jared Gilman, Colby Lewis, and Jim Gaffigan
Susie Searches holds its world premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program. Grade: 4/5
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