out of Five
Running time: 93
Engaging, well acted thriller that gains an extra chilling edge from the fact that it's based on a true story, though it's slightly let down by a questionable directorial decision.
What's it all about?
Directed by Andrew Douglas, uwantme2killhim? is based on a 2005 Vanity Fair article by Judy Bachrach that documented a chilling case from 2003 involving two Greater Manchester teenagers. Jamie Blackley stars as Mark, a popular, attractive kid at his North London school who spends his evenings having sexy online chats with Rachel (Jaime Winstone), a local teenager who claims she's in witness protection because of her violent boyfriend Kevin (Mingus Johnston) and asks Mark to look after her bullied younger brother John (Toby Regbo), who happens to be in Mark's class at school.
Mark subsequently sparks up a friendship with John and the pair become close, but when Rachel mysteriously disappears, Mark becomes increasingly distraught. Things then take an even weirder turn when Mark is contacted online by an MI5 agent (Liz White) who tries to persuade him that John is planning an act of terror and needs to be stopped.
Jamie Blackley is excellent as Mark, managing to strike a believable note of obsession that makes him seem naïve rather than flat-out stupid; he also has engaging chemistry with Regbo (equally good) that works well. In addition, there's strong support from Joanne Froggatt as a Detective Inspector given the task of (apparently single-handedly) getting to the bottom of the mystery (the majority of the film unfolds in flashback so we know from the start that Mark has been arrested for something serious).
The script does a decent job of pacing out the details of the mystery, so that although we may guess that Mark is being manipulated-slash-groomed (the online characters are filmed in a heightened style, suggesting their reality is not to be trusted), the motives behind the crime remain less clear. In addition, the themes of the film are strongly relevant and, like the similar Compliance, the film gains an extra chilling edge from the fact that it's based on a true story (though this film actually softens a few of the complexities of the real-life case).
That said, the film is slightly let down by a questionable directorial touch, namely the decision to eschew scenes of characters typing things on screen in favour of having the actors speak their lines to their computers in lieu of typing them out. This backfires considerably as it ends up breaking the reality of what's happening and takes you out of the film as a result.
uwantme2killhim? is an engaging and chilling British cyber-thriller enlivened by strong performances from its two young leads and given extra weight by its disturbing real life origins.