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A young woman studying the habits of webcam chat users from the apparent safety of her apartment witnesses a brutal murder online and is quickly immersed in a nightmare in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.Written by
Here's one of those things that sound stupid if you just describe it, a horror film in the found footage mode entirely assembled via web and phone cams and mostly taking place on a laptop. No it isn't scary, the acting is below par, there's no cinematic craft, the horror plot and climax are atrociously bad, in the end it's no more than a gimmick, but for a while you can see them probing something interesting.
Part of the reason why I think it's so darn clever is in how it threads the practical limitations of what they could do on a tiny budget, around narrative limitations of how much story they could deliver within the former, around broader meta- limitations of how much is possible for a viewer to know as true, going from meagre means to the broad, perplexing questions.
Inspiration after all is nourished and energized by limits, self-imposed or from necessity like a painter has to puzzle about how he can enliven and give depth to a twodimensional surface. It's easy to think of so many things to do with a budget in the millions, which is why unconstrained imagination fizzles out, but how much can you do with just a camera?
Here it's about a viewer in the midst of images, a girl doing a behavioral study over online chat services, who like us is looking to surmise possible pattern and truth; the constraint is that we can only watch.
A lot of the time we stare into a computer environment. Jarring to see in a film but still the groundwork through which we know so many other things these days. We see through a webcam at the girl in her apartment so we acquire a sense of real time. But then things are shifted around. Videos that we were parsing as taking place now are suddenly paused. We connect to random chatters, but have no way of knowing how much is real even within the small confines of the screen. Some of them are pulling pranks, there's a startling Russian roulette scene that ends with bloodshed and everyone laughing.
Among all this is footage of a possible murder.
So this could have been great, about our inability to be grounded in a horizon of shifting images and context; a Blowup for the tumblr age. We could swim far deeper into the videos, form more ambiguous connections, play and replay edges and details, tune in and out of a far stranger parade of the visual strangeness that is taking place out there, some of it feigned, some bizarre or exciting, even stupidity or crass sex would have its place, some strangely poetic in spite of all else.
So they constrained themselves in a powerful way, but halfway through they axe all that and fall back to the convenient limits of tradition: Halloween, Scream 2, Saw and Hostel. It's a throwaway thing by the end which is a shame.
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