Friday, August 1, 2014

The Den (2013)

Lovecraft taught us all about the oldest and strongest fears of mankind, but what about the newest ones?  The ones that arise with the invention of technology, the evolution of communication?  What if the same tools that are bringing us together are really traps?  Why is it called the InterNET, the World Wide WEB?  Why?  y?

There are Internet things that are worse than 4Chan and even Buzzfeed, and even though The Den probably doesn't give us the definitive exploration of those dark places, it's still a fine little film.  Elizabeth (the beauty above) is a student doing a graduate project on Internet communication, specifically a Chatroulette/Omegle-style talk-to-strangers site called The Den.

The early goings are fairly light-hearted.  We get confirmation for what we already know, that the Internet is full of flakes and weirdos.

A Nigerian prince money-transferer even makes a cameo.  But, soon, things get darker, both in the random scenes to which Elizabeth connects and in the attention she's drawing from the Internet's Very Wrongest People.  Stranger danger!

The Den ain't perfect, but there's a lot to like.  The webcam/vidchat gimmick gets exploited pretty effectively—we get lots of switching between character Den accounts and the plotline takes some fun twists and turns.  I was wary of a film comprised mostly of webcam shots, but this movie does a bang-up job of keeping this stuff interesting.  I also loved the portrayal of the police in this film, i.e. that they were either apathetic or completely unprepared to deal with brutal crime in a 3.0 world.  "I ran your picture of a throat-cutting through Google reverse image search, guess that's all we can do!"  

The Den ain't perfect and these are some reasons why: there's a little too much of the film to accommodate the material and it probably would've benefited from more trimming.   Especially concerning are the film's final scenes, when we ditch the static webcam stuff and move into a more Saw/Hostel sort of sphere.  These scenes would have been quite nice as a quick final punch, but they occupy like 15-20 minutes and it's just too much.  Like a lot of recent stuff (I'm talking to you, The Purge), it does hint at a broader concept that would make a great lengthy horror flick, but there's just not enough of that in the minuscule slice we get served this time.  And, for people who care about such things, The Den gets also progressively less believable as time passes.  Whatevah.

Overall, though, I'd say it's worth your time.  Not a lot of people are exploring this kind of content in a successful way, so jump on the good stuff when you can.  And this was pretty good.


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