The internet can be horrible place. Beneath the social networking, tweets, emails and funny videos lurks a dark underworld where people share their sick and twisted ideas and fantasies… WELCOME TO LOVE HORROR!
Just kidding, we’re not fantasists. I am of course talking about the real nasty stuff – the snuff, the indecent material, the taboos that give the internet a bad name and even bring into questions whether or not this global network should be censored in some way.
One element of this is online suicide, the subject upon which Chatroom is based.
In the film 5 teenagers meet online, each unhappy and troubled by something in their life. William has created a room and is eager to make friends with his visitors and quiz them about their feelings.
After trust is built, the new found friends meet regularly and enjoy their time together, but William has issues and his rebellious side soon starts to affect other members of the group.
They begin to re-think their lives and turn to drastic measures to improve things. It seems a positive thing at first, but as William goes through personal problems at home, he becomes fascinated by the whole online suicide thing and starts to manipulate the other room members. It soon becomes obvious that he has evil intentions.
Directed by Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water), the film is instantly interesting in the way in which it analogises the whole chat room experience. Rather than the viewer being treated to 90 minutes of teenagers tapping on a keyboard, the virtual world is in fact a seedy looking hotel with different rooms on a plethora of subjects and with a varied community to match.
The ‘Chelsea Teens’ room which the group frequents is a real room, and the conversations are played out in the small, sparse place.
It’s a great idea, strengthened by lots of clever references, the room ‘login’ being a virtual intercom for instance.
Oh, and (director aside) it’s British. Although it doesn’t suffer from the usual associated drawbacks of its nationality. The theme isn’t region specific, the cast are solid in their performances and there isn’t one element that stands out as being sub-standard for the genre – which for a straight to DVD, independent, British release is a rare thing.
No doubt the experience of Nakata would have been a factor in this, but it could well also be that the bar on lower budget UK horror releases is generally rising.
Chatroom is tense, disturbing and a thoroughly watchable film. It’s hard to say ‘enjoyable’ given the subject matter.
More of this standard please British Film Council!