Saturday, 28 February 2015


chatroom is a british ... er ... film about chatrooms. i was going to say horror film as that's kind of how it was marketed, but it's not really. i guess it's kind of a thriller?

on the surface, the film is about this teenager played by aaron johnson (who is super hot in this film) who sets up a chatroom and uses it to manipulate and corrupt the people he chats with there. the gimmick is that rather than five kids typing shit for 90 minutes, the film uses a kind of grimy hotel-type location to represent the internet, with actual rooms representing chatrooms.

it's a really interesting idea and very well-executed by hideo nakata (director of one of the greatest horror films ever, ringu). the concept is set up quickly and we soon meet and come to know the main characters and their problems. the cast are great, particularly johnson who has gone on to bigger and better things. the problem is, i'm not sure it 100% works.

chatroom is based on a play, and despite nakata's best efforts to make it cinematic (which he pulls off) there is something theatrical about the way the film works. this is a slow-paced musing on the theme of online identity and struggles to really get into a full-on story. sure, i was a bit worried about what johnson's character was doing to the others, but i never really felt like anyone was in any real danger. i think part of the issue was that presenting the chatrooms in such a way meant that it just didn't feel real.

the other problem is that it's kind of outdated, even for 2010 when the film was released. i'm sure some people still use chatrooms, but really facebook and twitter have taken their place now and with them they have brought much greater dangers. the channel 4 special cyberbully with maisie williams covered this much better than this film does.

it may be a failed experiment, but it;s still interesting and there's enough here to make it worth checking out.

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