So-so cyber frightener in which a group of teens are terrorised online
Here’s a prophecy from the seeress in the stalls: as tired as we are of found-footage horror flicks, the online-style cyber frightener – in which everything unfolds in real-time on a laptop screen – is going to get old even faster. This video-chat-turned-nightmare session is cleverly done, but it exhausts the concept somewhat short of its modest 83-minute running time.
Teen couple Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) are getting sexy on Skype when four of their best friends bust in for a group chat. And hmmm, who is the unseen ‘Billie227’ who has joined them uninvited? Well, let’s think. Another of their BFs killed herself (the video of THAT is online, of course) exactly a year ago, after being humiliated by a nasty video. Gee, could the mysterious hacker/stalker be seeking vengeance? Or is something ‘cyber-natural’ coming to get them?
While Blaire receives a stream of menacing Facebook messages and emails supposedly from the dead girl, all six characters are manipulated into exposing their secrets and lies. Since they are all bullies and betrayers it’s hard to get too worked up over their fates. Nor is it terribly scary as weird stuff happens to them, one by one, on blurry, glitching or frozen computer screens.
But, as a way of tackling the dark and disturbing side of social networking, this is a fair effort, with the cautionary aspect of bullying having consequences coming across effectively. All six actors were in separate rooms at their own computer stations, improvising in long takes, so their Skype conversation sounds natural. Georgian-Russian director Leo Gabriadze – mentored by producer Timur Bekmambetov (the man behind Night Watch and Wanted), whose brainchild this is – succeeds in delivering something familiar and relatable to the digitally connected, and that's technically interesting. At least for now.
General release from Fri 1 May.