CHATROOM DVD (2010)
SYNOPSIS: A handful of teenagers make the mistake of baring their souls to the wrong person in this thriller. Eva (Imogen Poots) is a young model whose good looks and poise disguise her aching doubts about herself and her wishes she could be more like others. Jim (Matthew Beard) is still wrestling with the demons brought on by a painful childhood and tries to beat back his fears with drugs. Emily (Hannah Murray) feels plain and unattractive and is filled with resentment towards her ambitious father and mother. And Mo (Daniel Kaluuya) struggles with his sexual desires for children, in particular the sister of a close friend. These four young people are frequent visitors to an internet chat room, where they can talk about their fears and anxieties while being drawn out by the compassionate moderator. But the man who runs the chat room is not all he seems. William (Aaron Johnson) is the unstable and neglected son of a successful author (Megan Dodds); he's grown to hate his more confident brother Ripley (Richard Madden) and has established the chat room in order to manipulate others to his own ends by getting them to share their secrets and using this knowledge against them.
The only plausible reason why this 2010 Brit movie, Chatroom is released on DVD here is the presence of it’s leading man, Aaron Taylor Johnson who just appeared in Godzilla and will star in next year’s Avengers 2. And yes he is also Kick-Ass!
Directed by Japanese horror maestro Hideo Nakata who redefines the horror genre with Ringu unfortunately fumbles with the material that originates from a stage play. Chatroom never feels like it’s meant for the big screen and the result: a soulless cyberspace thriller that never excites and incredibly static.
English actor Johnson plays a troubled and depressed teen, William. The younger son of a popular children’s book writer, William has just completed his therapy sessions with his psychiatrist. Shortly after, he sets up an internet chat room called “Chelsea Teens!” attracting the attention of four other teens, Emily, Eva, Mo and Jim all having emotional problems of their own. As William becomes psychologically unstable and manipulative to Jim in the end, the rest decides to step in before it turns fatal for the latter.
The movie touches on a few relevant aspects in today’s fast-moving society, teens’ depression, medication, cyber-bulling, social status, suicide and such. Sadly, every issue is presented in the most boring way possible (i.e. endless copious amount of talk) and to think it comes from the man who created a ghost crawling out of a TV set. The virtual cyberworld is beautifully represented physically in a hotel with long corridors and graffiti-decorated doors, this one I should give credit to.
You probably have seen Imogen Poots (Emily) from The Awkward Moment and Daniel Kaluuya (Mo) from Johnny English Reborn but it’s Matthew Beard’s heart-wrenching performance as the tortured Jim whose abandonment by his father has left a huge emotional scar on him that leaves you impressed. And if you are buying into the whole Chatroom thingy because of Aaron Taylor Johnson, well his presence is equally believable as the twisted teen.
Chatroom is potentially an interesting movie with the wrong execution. Hideo Nakata probably needs a better translator for his non-Japanese gigs.
Visual and audio is serviceable for this title that doesn’t require much sophistication in both departments.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee