Throwback LRI Review: The Den

This review was originally posted on on April 8, 2014, and does not abide by the current grading system.

This week, I received a promo copy of "The Den" written by Zachary Donohue and Lauren Thompson, directed by Zachary Donohue, and starring Melanie Papalia, David Schlachtenhaufen, Adam Shapiro, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, and Matt Riedy.

A young woman studying the habits of webcam chat users from the apparent safety of her apartment witnesses a brutal murder online and is quickly immersed in a nightmare in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.

The first thing I'm going to say is, give this movie a chance: It's only 77 minutes long. Secondly, the acting is really good for this kind of movie. Ridiculously good, I'm impressed with the acting alone. It's another "found footage" movie but with a surprising little twist.

Meet Elizabeth, a college student (I think graduate school but I couldn't tell you for what, psych probably) who is working on a project that studies webcam chat users on a site called "The Den" (basically it's "chatroulette" but they wouldn't sign off on it).

Things escalate very quickly in "The Den," then again they have to with only 77 minutes to work with. A user named "pyagrl*16" messages her and says that the webcam isn't working. Then a few days later, reconnects with the same user and watches a young girl who is sitting in a chair with duck tape on her mouth. A man in a mask comes up behind her and kills her.

She goes to the police and they sort of brush it off as a hoax. She decides to try and have her friend Max look into it a little bit more so she can make sure the girl is alive and it's a hoax. She posts a message on The Den message board and has responses that are typical for internet trolls, including a video message from friends playing a Russian Roulette prank on her.

She gets another message and finds that her sister is being targeted and that the man (or men) is in her house. She calls the police and they arrive just in time to save her sister. The police that respond to the scene, however, might not be the knights in shining armor after all.

The movie is very well made and has some really great acting. I wish it was a little bit longer and there was more to watch but at the same time, it ends very well. I am thoroughly surprised, however I decided to give "The Den" a big fat "Meh!"