Tuesday, February 3, 2015

dirty den.

Been getting a lot of online hate and threats recently so a friend suggested this little gem to cheer me up.

The Den (2013.)
Dir: Zachary Donohue.
Cast: Melanie Papalia, David Schlachtenhaufen, Adam Shapiro, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Matt Riedy, Katija Pevec, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Anthony Jennings, Victoria Hanlin and Anushka Rani.

Small-faced social media studies gal Liz (Papalia from Smiley - but we wont hold that aginst her) has decide that, rather than indulge in some hard graft to base her graduate thesis around the online activities of random users of a Chatroulette/Omegle style website called "The Den".

Ask your wee sister or alternatively go online and check it out yourself, remember tho' most users are very shy so best to pretend to be a 15 year old boy when talking to young girls as to appear less threatening.

Also if they offer to get undressed it's bad manners to refuse to watch.

Hoping to prove that the internet isn't just full of middle-aged perverts, angry Doctor Who cosplayers - and their mums - and sad lonely film reviewers, Liz is understandably disappointed when her online research reveals just that.

I must mention tho' that her exploration of the net also turns up an amusing puppet penis that does impressions of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey that I feel doesn't get enough recognition in any of the movies other write-ups so it's not all bad.

If I'm honest the makers should cast the penis is the sequel and have done with it, I mean imagine a movie where a massive ejaculating foam cock takes on the evils of online crime and perversion.

Well I'd watch it.

But I digress.

Anyways, luckily (for her and for us) she soon comes across (but not in a sexual way, she saves that for her boyfriends face later) a video that purporting to be the gruesome murder (by death) of a young Indian girl (Rani from the hit teevee show Modern Family).

Now Liz is intrigued.

"...And her come the Belgians!"

 Believing that she may have witnessed a real-life cockamamie snuff movie our little lipped lovely contacts the police who, after a few moments of hands on hips posturing, decide that there's nothing they can do save contact the 'cyber-crime' division.

Unfortunately there are no reports of giant silver men attempting to invade Earth from the sewers so the investigation is left to Liz.

"A quick trim madam?"

After convincing one her techie pal Max (CSI: Cyber and Ctrl Alt Delete star Shapiro - typecasting much?) that the video is real, he attempts, unsuccessfully to trace the account but it appears that it's being 'bounced' across too many 'servers' or something meaning that it's too complicated even for the Which? magazine guide to computing to help find.

Which to all intents and purposes is very complicated indeed.

Unbeknown to poor Liz tho' is that whilst all this online cyber-trickery is going on the killing culprits have 'hacked' (as opposed to slashed) her account.

And the first thing they do?

Why use Liz's webcam to film her having 'the sex' and email it to her college of course.

It's lucky then that the video is pretty badly lit so all you really see is Liz biting her lip whilst a big black blob makes short work of her lady garden which is frankly embarrassing but for all the wrong reasons.

Due to an excess of pubic hair Liz could never get trousers to fit.

With her lecturers disappointed by the lack of bush/boobs/bum on show they have no alternative but to suspend her studies prior to an investigation ordering Liz to stay offline and maybe get a hobby, or at least some sexy (but not tarty - she's a classy lady after all) underwear.

But Liz is convinced that there's something sinister afoot, much to the chagrin of he bizarrely angular of face boyfriend Damien (Schlachtenhaufen - bless you - Cousin of Steffen and Andy Schlachtenhaufen fact fans) who, obviously fazed by his girlfriends entire faculty seeing his arse has taken to hanging around the local zoo making lewd comments regarding the Giraffes.

Until he's kidnapped and his apartment emptied by peoples unknown that is.

You can probably guess that by this point Liz is feeling a wee bit paranoid.

The patented Ronco Handywank even proved a hit with the ladies.

And it's about to get worse as the mysterious murderer(s) are now using her computer ID to lure her friends to their deaths culminating in an attack on Liz's heavily pregnant (yet immaculately eyebrowed) sister Lynn (Hollyman from the classic Gayby).

Luckily the police arrive in time to spare the effects crew the nightmare of building a bloody baby foetus so Lynn is left unscathed save for the dark brown stain on the sofa.

With police officers guarding his sister and one taking Liz home to pack (I'm assuming she's going to a safe house not on holiday) you reckon you'd be safe to assume (as Liz does) that everything is going to be fine.

Which it is until one of her sisters attackers returns to collect a hidden camera.

And berate Lynn for being a single mum.

Which is nice if a wee bit unnecessary seeing as he really doesn't have much of a moral high ground.

But what of Liz? I hear you ask, how's her packing going?

Well it's going OK till her laptop suddenly switches on, giving the poor girl a front row seat (so to speak) of the murder of the fairly useless (if I'm honest) of Sgt. Tisbert who's currently investigating Max's apartment.

Let's see him say it's all fake now.

Well he wont be saying anything will he?

Because he's dead.

"Chase me now!"

Liz stands (well stoops but she has had a stressful day so we'll let that go) in silence as the screen cuts to another feed, this time showing her standing inside the apartment.


Attempting to remove the camera from the air-vent she's rudely interrupted by a sack-clothed masked man bursting in and trying to kill her, unfortunately for him Liz is a little pissed of and takes it out on the poor fella.

With a knife.

In his chest.

Finding her police escort dead Liz makes a run for the relative safety of the deserted night-time streets (um, yeah, right) but is not too surprisingly attacked again and this time knocked unconscious which can only mean that we're approaching the films climax.

And hopefully it'll be more satisfying than the one she had earlier.

"I'm not a real miner!"

Waking to find herself chained to a wall in a filth covered room (with a camera welded to head head to boot) with only a laptop for company.

A laptop that soon springs to life with a video of her badly beaten boyfriend.

Bleedy and bruised he has only enough time to inform Liz that there are others there like them before he too is brutally murdered.

Liz sits shaking with fear as echoing footsteps draw ever nearer....

Will she survive?

Who is behind this nefarious scene?

And more importantly will she get the 250 quid for any of the videos from You've Been Framed?

After waiting 4 hours for it to download, Adam is slightly disappointed by Liz's leaked sex video.

Shot almost entirely through the use of webcam and a direct-capture card, first time feature director Zachary Donohue's The Den utilising not only the technology but the buffering and glitch ridden annoyances that go along with it to great effect in what is in reality a good old fashioned warning to the curious about the dark side of the internet via the trappings of the found footage ethic if not the genre itself.

The eponymous setting of The Den website itself is instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever spent a bored few hours surfing the web, featuring as it does an abundance of vaguely embarrassing nudity, horny loners and the socially unwell, lulling the character of Liz - as well as the audience into a false state of security before plunging her headfirst into a mish-mash of urban legends regarding snuff movies, the real-life crime of online stalking and privacy alongside conspiracy theories as well as a liberal dash of good old fashioned fears of the unknown.

She might look a wee bit pensive now but just wait till the My Little Pony toy fuckfest starts....

And whilst it might not be the most original movie ever made it has a grittily unique lo-fi style that adds immeasurably to the films real-world look and even manages to deliver quite a few jumps along the way.

Which is no mean feat in itself.

Plus it's a lot less tedious - and considerably shorter than The Babadook which is a blessing.

Add to that the fact that Melanie Papalia's arse is so much peachier than Noah Wiseman's and you know you're onto a winner.

The films main failing comes not from it's actors (cute arsed or not) or direction but it's running time, or lack thereof, clocking in as it does at a teeny 72 minutes, meaning that the whole police involvement subplot alongside that of Max's investigations feel a little rushed and underdeveloped. In fact the whole plot of Liz's life being manipulated would really benefit from a much longer runtime and slower pace.

Did  Donohue and co. get worried that they'd run out of cash before the shoot was finished?

Or were they worried that the audience wouldn't have the patience to see a movie that unfolded slowly rather than your average horror popcorn thrower?

Who knows?

Tho' if it's the latter then it's a crime worse than those committed by the movies villains.


Wise man....crap arse.

If anything The Den would make a fantastic mini-series, with the extra time given over to the unfolding conspiracy, maybe even implicating the authorities (or some of Liz's friends and family) in what, we are led to believe is a global murder network. 

The paranoia would be palpable.

Under-rated and under-viewed, The Den is worth searching for.

Just make sure you unplug your computer after viewing.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

i miss the true/Mondasian/Telosian cybermen of the 1960s, versus the current ret-conned suck-ups to cosmetic-survey. :(