Latest Reviews

  • The Evil Within: The Assignment DLC

    Discover the whereabouts of Detective Juli Kidman and what her true intentions are in this first released DLC for The Evil Within. Read More
  • American Vampire: Volume 1

    A new breed of vampire is born within the US, providing a very different take on the old bloodsuckers.  USA! USA! USA! Read More
  • Animated Horror Movie Posters

    It's like the paintings on the walls at Hogwarts. Except way cooler. Read More
  • Snarl

    Are werewolves lurking in the state park?  The cops have no idea, but fortunately there are a bunch of exposition-friendly bystanders nearby. Read More
  • Interview: Dave Vescio

    Steven Wood sits down with Dave Vescio and the two discuss the actor's past, present and future, as well as what happens when he's around beautiful, highly successful actresses. Read More
  • Spring

    Spring is on its way. Or it's already here. Whatever, Ren Zelen takes a look at this genre experiment. Read More
  • Ghosted #20

    Jackson Winters finally meets Death face-to-face.  Now what? Read More
  • Poltergeist

    Another classic is remade, but was it worth the effort? Ren Zelen finds out. Read More
  • Area 51

    How about just don't go there? Read More
  • Forbidden Empire

    "A little bit of everything" isn't necessarily a good thing, and Forbidden Empire proves it. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

Latest News

  • Dial a Private Number Next Week +

    The horror/thriller starring Tom Sizemore and Judd Nelson comes out on Tuesday. Read More
  • Sasquatch, Aliens, and Doomsday Cults Abound as Strange Nation Comes to Print +

    The digital-first series from Monkeybrain Comics is heading to a comic book shop near you this August thanks to IDW Read More
  • Norman: Volume 2 Preview +

    “Dexter: The Early Years” continues this September.  Titan Comics shares a sneak peek. Read More
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Comes to UK Cinemas +

    Ana Lily Amirpour's Iranian vampire feature gets a UK release. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Home

 

 

The Den Movie Review

 

Written by Joel Harley



 


Directed by Zachary Donohue
Written by Zachary Donohue and Lauren Thompson
2013, 81 minutes, Not Rated

Starring:
Melanie Papalia as Elizabeth Benton
David Schlachtenhaufen as Damien
Matt Riedy as Sgt. Tisbert
Adam Shapiro as Max

 

the-den-poster

 

Review:

 

Researching a project which requires her to scour online chat vehicle Chat Roulette The Den for conversation good, bad and ugly, thesis student Elizabeth finds herself on the wrong side of the Internet when she happens across a real life serial killer. And there we were thinking online video chat was all flapping phalluses and sleazy weirdos trying to trick girls into showing off their feet.

 

the-den-07 the-den-06

 

Directed (and co-written) by Zachary Donohue, The Den employs one of the most interesting filming techniques I've seen in a while. Recorded mostly via Elizabeth's webcam – with the occasional excursion to her iPhone screen and other such third-party devices, it's found footage, but not as we know it. By which I mean good. It's not as though I have it in for the found footage subgenre – [REC] is one of my favourite horror films of all time, and I enjoyed the recent Hungerford and V/H/S series – but I have seen enough cut-and-paste (pun intended) cookie (also intended) cutter horror to last me a lifetime.

 

the-den-05 the-den-03

 

While there is an element of cliché and predictability to The Den (particularly during its finale), none of that is down to laziness or lack of invention on the film's part. The footage to be found consists of the view from Elizabeth's desktop – any program she opens, e-mail she reads or chat she has (family, friends and lover alike) we see and experience too. I found it to be particularly disconcerting as I watched the film via my own laptop. It's like the experience of using a computer at work and watching an IT technician move about your desktop from afar. Except, in this case, the IT technician is a serial killer and the desktop is your face. The mouse pointer is a blade, by the way.

 

the-den-02 the-den-01

 

Donohue and co-writer Lauren Thompson maintain an excellent handle on tone and pace from the start, hooking their audience with a number of basic yet effective jump scares and a surprising sense of humour. Elizabeth's initial forays into The Den is where the film is at its best, juggling comedy, tension, observation and gyrating genitalia while we get to know and like young Elizabeth. Melanie Papalia portrays the naïve student with equal parts vulnerability to spunk. While the role is mostly her looking apprehensive, scared or downright terrified, she's more than just a damsel in distress. Well, she is mostly a damsel in distress, but the action and Papalia's performance give her just enough personality that she's more than the two-dimensional victim she could have been. Like Manuela Velasco of [REC] and Alexie Gilmore of Willow Creek, Papalia is ideally suited to this sort of horror, possessing a wonderfully expressive face as she does. Mind, if you're going to point your camera head-on at someone for the best part of ninety minutes, you'd best make sure they can act.

 

While it does inevitably suffer from some of the subgenre's inherent flaws – there's a point where you can't help but wonder why she's still filming everything – it does a sterling job of sidestepping a good deal of them. Best of all, the interesting material isn't all relegated to the last ten minutes, and it doesn't end with a lingering shot of someone being dragged off into the darkness (although, admittedly, there is such a scene a little earlier). Smart, scary and genuinely creepy, The Den is that rare found footage horror film that's actually well worth bookmarking.

 

Grades:

 

Movie: Grade the-den-poster-small

 

 

 

 

Shop for Horror at Amazon US or Amazon UK!

 

 

 

Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.

 

 

 

 

Search

OBEY - CONSUME

Contests

  • 1