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The Den (2013)

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While studying the habits of web cam chat users from the apparent safety of her own home, a young woman's life begins to spiral out of control after witnessing a grisly murder online.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Elizabeth Benton
David Schlachtenhaufen ... Damien Clark
... Max
... Lynn Benton
... Sgt. Tisbert
... Jenni
... Sally
... Officer Dawson (as Anthony Paul Michael Jennings)
... Brianne
... Young Indian Girl
Garrett Fornander ... Prank Boy
... Evil Girl
Jeff Rubino ... Suburban Dad
Jonah Landow ... Suburban Boy
Rikin Vasani ... Sudeep
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

online is the scene of the #crime See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong bloody violence, terror, some sexuality, graphic nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 March 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death Online  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The majority of the film takes place on computer screens, cell phone screens, and cameras for short terms. See more »

Goofs

It is not possible for the hacker to erase Elizabeth's hard drive in just a few seconds, especially by software means. It would take several hours to make the data completely unrecoverable. See more »

Crazy Credits

The very end of credits has "Talk to someone..." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Unfriended (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Sit And Listen To Loud Music
Composed by Adam Popick and Zachary Donohue (as Zach Donohue), 2013
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Murder by mouse-clicks
29 October 2014 | by See all my reviews

The Den is the ultimate horror film about technology in the twenty- first century, shot almost entirely through the use of webcams and through an online, video-chatting website in the vein of something like Skype or Stickam. It reminds me of Joe Swanberg's short film in the horror-anthology V/H/S, but taken to more sadistic and frightening levels. If a film that made me quietly fear entering my username and password to log into my computer after watching it, I'd say it's a pretty effective piece of work.

The Den, as stated, is filmed entirely through a direct-capture card, or an accessory commonly used for recording activity on a computer that looks as if you are sitting at a desk and watching somebody else's computer. It's often neat, but occasionally results in buffering or glitchiness, a technique that director/co-writer Zachary Donohue employs with great effect, creating the kind of flair Grindhouse films of the seventies inherently included, like film-breaks and color that looked like it had been acid-washed. The film concerns a grad student named Elizabeth (Melanie Papalia), who is monitoring the habits of webcam users on a website by the name of "The Den." She spends most of her days cycling through nudity, vulgar kids, horny souls, foreigners determined to scam the naive, rude people, pranks, annoying memes, and the socially awkward. It's almost like sitting at a virtual bus- stop.

Elizabeth is working off of a lofty grant she generously received for her research, but is growing disillusioned when her work doesn't seem to be resulting in any interesting or noteworthy correlations. The ho-hum clicking becomes interrupted when she encounters a feed of what looks to be a woman being mutilated and finally violently murdered, as well as finding her email hacked, her webcam intercepted, and her files wiped by the same person up to killing these women. The police are understandably lax, telling Elizabeth that if they investigated every suspicious video online, they would never get any of the work done in the outside world, due to the amount of phony stage-craft on the internet. Elizabeth is appalled and scared when her friends start to disappear, even her on/off boyfriend, and quickly realizes that she may be the next person to be killed by the webcam murderer.

If the way The Den was shot wasn't sufficient enough, the manner in which the technology is elaborated on and executed is entertaining to watch as well. Writers Donohue and Lauren Thompson take time to tag the bases of all the odd people that often make up these Chat Roulette kind of websites, cycling through the people in a way that doesn't feel oversimplifying nor gratuitous. The internet houses many things that can easily shock and provoke and that's precisely what The Den attempts to do and, mostly, succeeds. It creates a technological environment, an inherently neutral environment in terms of mood, and creates it into a frighteningly unpredictable medium that lends itself to the horror genre. In addition, the amount of hacking and tampering shown in The Den should make any avid user of computers or smartphones fearful; it's only an informal reminder of the effects ubiquitous technology can bring.

The only issue I take with The Den is, not the lackadaisical methods of the law-enforcement like some of my peers have, but the pacing of the story, which feels like it's racing against itself. At seventy- two minutes, an already incredibly short watch that zips past you almost as quickly as a TV show, it's a wonder why Donohue and Thompson didn't take more time to develop the technological manipulation of Elizabeth with slowburn technique. Did they fear audiences would be alienated by the style? This fault isn't necessarily so apparent in the first thirty minutes, but when things begin to work against Elizabeth, the film feels like it's now tagging bases not in terms of being effective but in terms of trying to race to the invisible finish-line and conclude before the audience presumably starts checking the time.

Nonetheless, the effectiveness and terror The Den brings is real, and the ending only works to further reiterate that humans have sick fantasies that have now been brought into the mainstream thanks to the internet. It reminds me of Lucky Bastard, a seldom-seen, found footage horror film about a man who wins a date and complementary sex with a porn star for a website, showing the impact and far- reaching abilities of smut in a way that was equal parts shaming the audience but devilishly compelling all the more. For some reason, horror films set online get a bum rap, with Lucky Bastard and even the other commendable cyber-thriller Untraceable receiving numerous amounts of unwarranted hate. The Den, like its genre-predecessors, will likely fall into the category of being underrated, but the issues it proposes and depicts, whether we see them or not, will exist anyway - and that's the beauty of horror films set on the internet.

Starring: Melanie Papalia, David Schlachtenhaufen, and Matt Riedy. Directed by: Zachary Donohue.


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