Review time, this time it isn’t a novel or web novel, it’s a movie and one I dislike!
This isn’t a recent movie, but it’s one I saw in theatres and it shocked me just how bad it was. But I’ll cover the key points as to why this is just a bad movie. This will contain spoilers.
So the movie doesn’t really start terribly off the gate, it does give some background of these two characters, cyber security peeps Jennifer and Griffin. They do some tracking on a criminal hacker by phishing him with their own accounts to back trace him. Fairly obvious stuff, but quite frankly this is the smartest these two are in the movie because it goes downhill from here.
These two characters are obviously not love interests, which I appreciate, just people who work together. Jen’s a single mother while Griffin is a dude looking for love via online dating sites, which I find a touch ironic considering his occupation and the fact that there is a lot of predation on dating websites.
The plot really starts when they have this blogger essentially start a twisted version of audience participation, essentially they kidnapped a kitten and put it in a death trap on a live feed, and the more viewers watching the video the closer the kitten gets to dying.
So they are NOT being subtle with the messaging here. This is a hamfisted movie about the dangers of sensationalism and anonymous participation. Also, apparently the FBI can’t shut this shit down and the kitten dies.
And that’s the movie mostly. This is Saw, with an audience and they are not subtle about it.
The website, by the way, is named KillWithMe.com. Subtle.
For plot reasons, they can’t just pull this IP down, or make google remove it from search lists and rather quickly this dude starts live streaming the death traps of a helicopter pilot then a newscaster.
The FBI is trying to get this dude, but then there’s a press conference which is advised against, which again, the movie avoids the smart thing and they go tell people to not do this very bad thing which just inflates the numbers.
These news people need to read a Terry Pratchett novel, otherwise they would know if there was an end the world switch in the cave in the middle of nowhere that the paint wouldn’t even dry before someone pulled it.
Three deaths in, (yes I include the kitten), Griffin the partner has managed to get some plausible theory on who the killer is.
And then says he’ll tell his partner tomorrow over the phone after going to meet his online date.
Forget Pratchett, these peeps need to read just normal thriller novels, or tv tropes, or ANY tv show with stakes made in the last thirty years.
So he’s kidnapped, killed in a live stream and has to tell his partner on camera in Morse Code, which he’s gagged in this scene so he has to blink in morse code while being dissolved in acid.
Which I guess everyone still knows in 2008?
We get to the reasoning of these killings, which isn’t just a political statement but good old revenge. So the dude doing this, his father committed suicide, which messed him up, but what’s more messed up is that someone got it on tape, sold it to news outlets, and they showed it on tv. Now after the completely justified public outrage for this going up on the news, MOST of the outlets pulled it, but one didn’t. That’s the one the newscaster worked for. The helicopter pilot was the one who accidentally caught it since it was a traffic copter. I think the dude who owned the kitten sold the footage. Now this dude when this all happened had a full on mental break, was institutionalized and somewhat recently got out.
And let’s talk about this real quick. Can mentally unstable people do some messed up things? Yes, but that’s a thing that happens.
Should we keep making them the villains in movies, um, no, why? Because statistically, they’re the people who are VICTIMS of violent and malicious acts, not the actual people who do them.
But putting aside that the villain in this movie is the low hanging fruit of a grieving mentally disturbed boy, at this point, this has been pushed beyond simple revenge because the dude has proven his point. That the media sensationalizes violence and people participate by consuming it, but the movie is of course breaking its own message by having the villain continue with the people doing their job by hunting him.
It would be ONE thing if he just quietly killed them, but he publicized it.
Oh and now for the stupidest scene in the movie. IE: how Jennifer gets captured, because of COURSE she does. Jennifer, whose partner was just captured. Jennifer who’s still working on this case despite clearly being emotionally compromised because her partner just died. Jennifer who gets NO PROTECTIVE DETAIL after this happens. She’s driving an electric modern car, which then gets hacked by this super hacker in the middle of the rain. First thing she does, gets out of her car when it stops working. Which is somewhat forgivable, what’s unforgivable is it turns back on and she gets back in, WITHOUT CHECKING THE BACK.
Three guesses on what happens next.
I’m sorry, new car or not, rain or not, this is an FBI agent. If my car stopped then randomly started after my friend was kidnapped I’m not getting in. If I’m getting anywhere near that car, I’m putting a clip into any place that peep could be hiding. He’s a fucking murderer.
But she’s captured, put into a death trap, she escapes the death trap, kills the dude, and the movie ends with a close up of the live stream chat which ends with the words…
Can I get a download of this video?
Now, I don’t like horror. I like thrillers, not horror, but this isn’t either of these. I understand the tropes associated with it, but the tropes work more under the pretense that these are not smart or relatively prepared people.
But this is a movie about FBI trained people who specialize in hunting hackers. They should not be THIS stupid. Also a movie about sensationalization should not be SO gungho about showing as much gorn as it did. It’s a bad movie not because of the acting or the premise, but the execution is flawed as hell. There’s no saying oh, the villain has a point, because he doesn’t. He shifts from revenge to just being a serial killer pretty damn quickly and also, if he wanted revenge on that network he should have focused more on the producers or whoever actually wanted to do the story. The characters don’t take any precautions and because of their professions should have known better and the ending completely derides the message with the chat log at the end.
TLDR: Don’t watch this movie, it’s stupid.