How wrong I was!
From the very start it offers up something that no other film I have ever seen does. It is all based on a laptop computer, so think emails, IM, video calls, that kind of thing. While I did remain sceptical about how the entire film would play out in this way, I was pleasantly surprised by the different approach. If someone had told me how it was presented before I’d watched it (I don’t read full reviews beforehand, just the titles and ratings on IMDB, if anything), I don’t think I would have been too keen to watch it. I would have assumed there was no way any kind of atmospheric tension would pass to me through the characters computer screen.
Again, how wrong I was.
But these few minutes of flirting are the first and only scenes of innocence and joviality. It is only when some of their other friends join them on Skype that things begin to take a sinister turn. There is an unknown profile involved in their group chat and none of them know who it is, nor is there any way for them to get rid of their stalker. In between the video chats we see Blaire and her boyfriend Mitch messaging each other about who the stranger is. It is mentioned that it’s the first anniversary of the death of Laura and we are given the information that they all knew her and Blaire was good friends with her.
The creepy atmosphere in this real-time movie is relentless throughout and is helped along by clever writing and well-timed, subtle additions. Although it is not what I would call truly scary, it is very unnerving and unsettling and it gives a strong anti-cyber-bullying message on different levels.
The actors were credible, especially Shelley Hennig who plays Blaire. Connecting with the viewer indirectly is a challenge that, for me this film has achieved. I felt as much tension as if it was filmed in the usual way, if not more because I found I was constantly looking in the background of the webcams to see if anything was happening.
In today’s world of quick scare tactics I think this movie created something new that very much ties in with the times we live in. It takes something we see as completely benign and turns it into something to be feared and the underlying message of how devastating cyber-bullying can be is a powerful one.
Judging by reviews on IMDB (which I read after I’d seen the movie), the majority of people either love it or hate it. I loved it. Will you?