A teenage boy’s descent into the dangerous world of the Internet and the harrowing consequences of his actions. A true story.
Before social media such as facebook and twitter dominated social culture there were chatrooms. These were very basic sites where individuals could interact with cyber friends, known or otherwise, through typed conversation and in some cases webcams. Uwantme2killhim? from director Andrew Douglas takes its inspiration from a troubling true story centered in the mystery of these portals and questions how you can really be certain with whom you’re speaking.
Mark (Jamie Blackley) is a popular kid at school by day, friendly with the girls and star of the football team. By night he talks in an online chat room with Rachel (Jaime Winstone) who is apparently in a witness protection program due to her boyfriends indiscretions and very quickly their relationship becomes as intimate as is possible while communicating over the internet. As their trust grows Rachel asks Mark to look after her brother John (Toby Regbo) who is the victim of bullies and has few, if any, school friends. Reluctantly Mark agrees and to his surprise soon forms a bond with the troubled and seemingly innocent John. When events take a darker turn Mark begins to question what is real and begins to descend into a dangerous world of revenge and mystery.
Saying too much about Uwantme2killhim? would spoil any surprises the film may hold. Despite being based on a true story, and more than likely very loosely, the way the plot develops will come as a surprise to the majority of audiences and the film is all the better for it. This is definitely one that is best enjoyed by knowing as little as possible about the source material as the third act is definitely worth waiting for. That isn’t to say it comes across as wholly original in its twists and turns, and many viewers will develop some suspicions where the plot is going, but there are some clever and unexpected developments.
The two lead actors are very strong, giving convincing and empathetic performances in their respective roles. You really find yourself being drawn into their tiny, initially dull worlds as both seek excitement, love and reassurance from external sources, and while there is always an awkwardness to their relationship it is believably written and justified. The support cast are largely underused with Winstone and Joanne Froggatt as the detective investigating the crime not really given much to get their teeth into but they deliver their roles as expected.
Using flashbacks and interconnecting arcs Douglas handles the story with a subtle and soft hand which, given that previous feature was the bloody and visceral The Amityville Horror remake, is refreshing in its simplicity. There is a voyeuristic feeling to the direction which places you in the room with the characters while never interacting and this effectively compliments the subject matter. It could be said the pacing of Uwantme2killhim? is a little slow but this measured approach only emphasizes what follows in the final act.
There are some minor issues though but it is perhaps churlish to draw too much attention to them. The characters have a habit of narrating their chat room entries and while this is explained a little later in the film it possibly removes a little of the tension in some of the exchanges, and is somewhat clumsy in places. Some of the peripheral characters are very slight and one dimensional and, while adding elements to the story, are easily dismissed as trivial.
Ultimately Uwantme2killhim? doesn’t quite reach the heights it strives for but it definitely will not disappoint. This is a dark tale of trust and mistrust and makes you question what you think you know about the internet. Douglas’ film casts doubt over everything you take for granted when conversing electronically and in drawing its inspiration from a more simple and innocent time, only a matter of years ago, will make you curious who it really is you think you know online.