Director: Hideo Nakata
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Imogen Poots, Hannah Murray, Daniel Kaluuya, Matthew Beard
Oh, the wonders of the Internet, which allows you to be who you want to be, say what you want to say, and do what you want to do. Presumably all of these young people wanted to make a bad film. Luckily, online chatrooms exist to bring to life their most vivid dreams. Like Facebook. Or Twitter. But written ten years ago.
That’s the main problem with Chatroom: everything feels so dated. Picturing the Internet as a corridor full of rooms is a little old-hat, but covering it in faded wallpaper and coloured lights only ages it further. It’s hard to believe it’s directed by Hideo Nakata, the horror maestro who brought the world Ringu. The use of VHS there gave things an eerie, old-fashioned feel. The use of a chatroom here just feels old.
Pity poor Aaron Johnson, then, as William, a screwed up individual who takes sadistic pleasure in steering other teens towards suicide. He’s got a good group to choose from: there’s Jim (Beard), who mumbles a lot and lives off anti-depressants, Emily (Murray), the do-gooder who wants more love from her parents, Eva (Poots), a spoilt wannabe model, and Mo (Kaluuya), the black one who fancies younger girls.
Adapted from Enda Walsh’s play by Walsh herself, Chatroom is a little bit of a mess. There are interesting ideas floating in cyberspace (if you ignore the contrived dialogue), but most are lost in the web of over-staged boredom. Small moments – like the forced suicide of a young boy amidst a group of shouting tormentors – are effective and unsettling, but an emo boy who preys on other’s insecurities? It’s hardly a revelation about online bullying.
You can’t help but think they should have kept the original script’s length of 60 minutes, instead of padding it out to a fluffed 90. Everyone involved is better than this. Especially Enda. Believe it or not, she wrote Hunger before this. Compared to that, this is something written by that woman off the AOL adverts. Let’s just hope her next isn’t a movie about MySpace. That would be shockingly up-to-date.
A disappointing thriller, which is as exciting and modern as a floppy disk. Chatroom feels like a film from a first-time director. It really shouldn’t.
- aaron johnson
- daniel kaluuya
- dark water
- hannah murray
- hideo nakata
- imogen poots