Internet safety awareness is something that us bloggers certainly deal with every day. How much to share, where to share it, and with whom are decisive elements that we need to balance carefully. Though newer generations grow-up surrounded by safety campaigns, danger keeps evolving into new forms everyday, making this a constant struggle.
One of the oldest and most dangerous hazards are chat rooms – and Chatroom deals with them in a particular way. The film follows the lives of five teenagers, each of them with their own problems, but all of them with something in common: they were seeking comfort, and they all looked for it in the same chat room, Chelsea Teens!. They immediately connected and promised to go online every day, sure that that was the remedy for all their worries – and indeed it seemed like it, until the secret agenda of one of the members, William (Aaron Johnson), begins to unfold.
It’s a rather dark film, that can easily be very unsettling – after all, Hideo Nakata directed it, so you can expect a compelling combo of the japanese terror minimalism with what the brits do best. Though note, despite having a few not scary but disturbing moments, it is not a horror film, but rather a teen semi-surrealistic drama. The actors play a huge part as well, of course, particularly Matthew Beard, who after that adorable character in An Education delivers a splendid performance – I mean truly remarkable and seriously overlooked – as does the lead, Aaron Johnson, that we’ve seen before in films like Nowhere Boy and Kick-Ass, but never as the villain.
The shock factor also comes from the most interesting aspect of Chatroom: in the film, cyberspace is depicted physically, in a fresh angle that drastically changes our perception of it. Suddenly, everything is amplified, not only the sense of vulnerability and the sense of danger, but also feelings that are triggered by what happens there, and so the real world merges with the virtual one, as so often and naturally does today. This illusion is skillfully done throughout most of the film, inserting small but interesting details here and there, and always with an emphasized visual contrast between the real, cold colored world, and the over-saturated cyberspace.
Certain plot details and outcomes are, however, a bit foolish, and perhaps some elements of fantasy are unnecessary and even disadvantageous. Nonetheless, I believe the outcome is positive. Cyberspace it’s a deceiving world with infinite places for horrible things to happen, and for criminals to hide. And it has, indisputably, serious consequences in real life – if there’s even a line anymore. Chatroom is precisely about the darkest alleys of cyberspace, and it is, at the very least, interesting and memorable.