Latest Reviews

  • Interview: Joe Mulvey

    Interview: Joe Mulvey

    James chats with the man behind Mummy's Always Right about books, monsters, and more. Read More
  • Chum #1

    Chum #1

    A gorgeous beach noir with dames, gangsters, and dead bodies on a tiny island. Read More
  • The Hoarder

    The Hoarder

    The Hoarder is not quite as disturbing as an episode of Hoarders.  Read More
  • Top Five Psychological Horror Novels Adapted to Film

    Top Five Psychological Horror Novels Adapted to Film

    The Monster Underneath author Matthew Franks shares his five favorite psychological horror novels adapted to film. Read More
  • Green Room

    Green Room

    Jeremy Saulnier’s latest effort is a swiftly paced punk rock themed venture into trepidation and sheer brutality. One of 2016’s best. Watch it. Read More
  • Straitjacket

    Straitjacket

    What's real and what's make believe in this terrifying graphic novel? Read More
  • The Brotherhood of the Wheel

    The Brotherhood of the Wheel

    R.S. Belcher brings together a vast array of horror and supernatural elements and somehow turns it all into a very entertaining, action-packed novel in The Brotherhood of the Wheel. Read More
  • Tales of Mr. Rhee: Those Who Fight Monsters... #5

    Tales of Mr. Rhee: Those Who Fight Monsters... #5

    This supernatural detective is heading to the final frontier as volume 3 comes to a close. Read More
  • The Boy

    The Boy

    While The Boy might initially entice Catholic Priests and Michael Jackson impersonators, it will ultimately leave true horror aficionados feeling lifeless and wooden. Read More
  • Survivors' Club #8

    Survivors' Club #8

    It's a monster battle royale as the survivors face evil on all fronts. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

Latest News

  • Frightfest Announces Horror Channel as New Headline Sponsor +

    The London horror festival enters into a three-year deal with Horror Channel. Read More
  • Lady Killer Returns in August +

    Writer / Artist Joëlle Jones is back for more bloodshed with a killer housewife. Read More
  • Witchfinder Returns with All Star Creative Team +

    Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, and Ben Stenbeck unite to further the adventures of Sir Edward Grey. Read More
  • IDW Entertainment To Bring Locke & Key to TV +

    The amazing comic from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez is coming to the small screen...again. 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.

 

 

 

 

About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Writer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for HorrorTalk and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
Recent Articles

Popular Categories

Search

OBEY - CONSUME

cheap halloween costumes in dhgate stores

Contests

  • 1