In his first feature since The Amityville Horror in 2005, Andrew Douglas tackles another true story, this time of two teen boys who made legal history in 2003 when they were caught up in a criminal internet-fuelled incident. The investigation into the serious but uncanny crime and the court case battle that followed was notoriously concealed from the public and media domain, and now, ten years on,
Douglas’ depiction of this
urban tragedy attempts to unveil the true events whilst examining the potential
of the internet and the calamitous consequences it can have for both individuals
Confident and popular schoolboy Mark (the legal pseudonyms of both boys are used), played by Jamie Blackley (London Boulevard), is full of life, his overt boisterousness and tongue ‘n’ cheek manner as endearing as his cyber teen romance with his chatroom sweetheart Rachel (Jaime Winstone). But when Rachel, who cannot reveal herself due to being signed up to witness protection program to protect her abusive and criminal boyfriend, tells Mark to watch out for her loner brother and his classmate John (Toby Regbo), the two boy’s kindling bromance plunges them into a disastrous, life-changing predicament.
FeardotCom (2002), Cry Wolf (2005), Untraceable (2008) and Chatroom (2010) are amongst those that have acted to unveil the horrors and the lessons to be learnt from the consequential use of cyberchat, and uwantmetokillhim? too tackles this incessant continual human concern – a concern that has been troubling our ever-growing instant-messaging cyber world long before the Facebook era.
Nowadays it’s not an uncommon feature of films to uncover true stories and Douglas does well to divulge the story through a deserved and insightful realism whilst ensuring not to surpass the dramatic elements of his own vision of the account or forego the moulding of his two subjects’ characterisation.
As Jack takes ‘weird’ john under his wing, their bourgeoning relationship carries some profound heartfelt moments and in turn the sincerity of the boy’s troubles involving. The chemistry of Blackley and Regbo is electric, often touching, and the initial prioritisation and vast depth given to understanding their friendship allows
Douglas to effectively
captivate the viewers before honing in on the harrowing reality of Mark and
It’s only when the situation escalates and Mark loses control to the power of public order institutions that, had it not been based on a true story, is where you’d think its credibility wavers. Mark’s wordly inexperience and naivety edges exploitation to the forefront of the plot’s focus henceforth as his lonely quandary spirals down a tragedy of manipulation, deceit, sociopathicism and demented fantasy. It provokes a few ‘what if’ and ‘what now’ scenarios, without overly squandering the opportunity, and Blackley excels in communicating Mark’s self-battle and moral struggle.
A few unexplained inconsistencies arise as it nears its conclusion and its shortcomings lean towards a rather abrupt ending after the sudden realisation of the truth; the lack of insight into the aftermath can only be down to the legalities of the two subject’s undisclosed identities. But these slight inadequacies do not undermine
extensive efforts to tell the tale, and thus it succeeds all-around as a tense,
gripping and absorbing cyber chiller that all too truly exposes the disastrous
and powerful effects of internet abuse.
VERDICT: An unnerving story that will resonate with most and make even the internet-savvy shiver, uwantme2killhim? goes further than its predecessors to expose the vulnerability of youths in todays digital world.