Chatroom (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/12/2010

One out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Poorly written and badly acted, Chatroom squanders its only decent idea early on and rapidly descends into a shallow-minded, lifeless thriller that fails to engage on any level whatsoever.

What's it all about?
Directed by Hideo Nakata (Ringu) and based on a play by Enda Walsh, Chatroom stars Aaron Johnson as William, a Camden rich kid who sets up an online chatroom called Chelsea Teens! and ends up befriending the first four users through the virtual door: whiny model Eva (Imogen Poots), depressed loner Jim (Matthew Beard), over-protected Emily (Hannah Murray) and troubled Mo (Daniel Kaluuya), who's struggling with a dark secret. However, it quickly turns out that William is a suicide-obsessed sociopath, intent on manipulating everyone around him and soon he's preying on Jim and trying to get him to kill himself.

The Bad
Despite feeling weirdly dated, Chatroom starts well, with an intriguingly designed system of corridors and rooms that are meant to stand as a visual metaphor for the virtual chatrooms; this extends to the characters speaking in short clipped sentences, as if they were typing their own dialogue (though, sadly, no-one says “LOLZ!” at any point). Unfortunately, this turns out to be the film's only decent idea and it immediately squanders it: firstly, the dialogue turns out to be just as awful and stilted as in “real” life and secondly the film doesn't bother exploring the rest of the chatroom world or playing with any ideas of fake online identity, barring a single scene where the notion is dropped as quickly as it's raised.

Aaron Johnson is atrocious as the pouty, punchably smug William and the supporting cast is entirely nondescript, with the result that none of the characters are particularly likeable and you don't care what happens to any of them. Also, the film is almost offensively crass in places, particularly around the fact that William's problems supposedly stem from his resentment of his Famous Children's Author Mother (Megan Dodds), a thinly-veiled and frankly insulting caricature of, well, you can probably guess.

The Worse
The script is all over the place and never really comes together, while Nakata completely fails to do anything interesting with the contrast between the online and offline worlds. On top of that, it's not remotely scary, unless you're frightened by terrible acting.

Worth seeing?
Chatroom is something of a disaster, thanks to a dull script, poor performances and vapid, uninspired direction. One to avoid.

Film Trailer

Chatroom (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 12:26

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