Based on true events, first published in a Vanity Fair article, uwantmetoKILLhim? details the downward spiral of Mark (Jamie Blackley), a teenage boy with a growing obsession for Internet chat rooms. Mark is pulled into a web of abusive relationships, deceit and deception and vows to look after his cyber girlfriend’s bullied brother (Toby Regbo) at school.
Mark is infatuated with Rachel (Jaime Winstone) and spends as much time talking to her online as possible. It’s in one of these conversations that she admits being worried about her ‘weird’ brother John, and asked Mark to look out for him at school. Mark dutifully befriends John but becomes increasingly concerned for Rachel’s well being; she has an abusive boyfriend at home, whom Mark ultimately swears revenge on, as he and John believe Rachel to have been murdered.
uwantmetoKILLhim? is a harrowing depiction of the manipulation that can reside on the Internet and the horrible ramifications it can lead to. Although some of the relationships that Mark builds online seem farfetched, at least to me, it seems highly plausible that a young and somewhat innocent person could be lured into fanciful liaisons and scenarios. The film skilfully negotiates the psyche of a lustful teenage boy and the perils of innocence and gullibility. As this film is loosely based on real events I found it all the more tragic and terrifying, with Mark being a true tragic ‘hero’.
The leads, Blackley and Regbo, are very strong and underpin the whole film with nuanced performances – they won the Best performance in a British feature film award when the film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. A lot of the narrative is told from Mark’s perspective so Blackley gets a lot of time to shine, but Regbo plays his character John with a lot of sympathy. We feel for him when he is bullied and revel in his triumph upon giving his bully a good ‘kicking’. The supporting cast of Jaime Winstone, Joanne Froggatt and Mark Womack are strong and compliment the story well.
Surprisingly the film has some heavyweight Hollywood backers in The Weinstein Company and Bryan Singer, producing with his Bad Hat Harry Productions company. Their confidence in the picture should give you some indication that this film is worth seeking out. Though the use of CCTV does become a little tiresome the end result is a profoundly shocking parable on the dangers of cyber relationships and the lengths that loneliness can push you to.
I heartily recommend that you see this film. Though the events may seem extraordinary, and who knows how much artistic license was present, it serves as a stark warning to all of us. It’s even worth watching if only to see Jamie Blackley and Toby Regbo before they hit the big time.