Hideo Nakata, the Japanese horror-meister who made his name with the original Ring, falls steeply from grace with this dismal squib about malefaction on the internet.
Based on a play by Enda Walsh, it follows five London teens who meet online, only to discover that one of them is a manipulative psychopath out for blood. The central conceit of the film is to visualise the "chatroom" as a physical space, where the principals are actually talking face-to-face with one another, even though they're glued to their computer screens. It's an imaginative stroke, but one that undermines the film's argument – namely, that in cyberworld you can never be sure who you're talking to.
Nakata, who once scared the bejesus out of us merely by the sound of a telephone ring, hasn't found an equivalent alarm here: his efforts to build tension feel remarkably cack-handed. It's unfortunate, too, that this appears a couple of weeks after Catfish, a film that really gets the delusional possibilities of online friendship. Aaron Johnson, Imogen Poots and Matthew Beard are among the bright young actors straining to make a connection.
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