Elizabeth Benton (Melanie Papalia) is a young student who has devised a study for her graduate thesis in social media studies: she will study the activities of random people online. She is given a grant to do her work, and uses a program called “The Den”, which is a random webcam based chat program that randomly pairs two people together to chat. Elizabeth goes into lockdown, even letting her relationship with Damien (David Schlachtenhaufen) dwindle, and the only time she sees/chats with him is online. A specific user keeps popping up by her, though there is no working webcam. The results that she is getting back on her study are just a little bit disappointing.
However, soon things change when it appears that someone has hacked Elizabeth’s machine, and starts to do some funny things. They record intimate moments of her and mail it out to the people that gave her the grant for her study, for instance. She is blissfully unaware of this, and continues with her little project. Just when she is starting to give up, she stumbles across a video from the user that keeps popping up on her feed, and this time there is a video feed: Elizabeth witnesses while a young girl is butchered. Completely freaked out, she contacts the police (cyber department), who tell her that while it looks real, there is nothing that they can really do. This not being a good enough answer for Elizabeth, she employs the help of her friend in IT, Max (Adam Shapiro), to look into whether or not the video was real or a hoax.
Damien, on the other hand, feels that Elizabeth may have been pranked, and is getting very edgy about no longer seeing her and always having to contact her through The Den if he wants to talk to her. While arguing on the phone, she turns over, and misses the fact that he did not disconnect the video chat because they were fighting, but because somebody with a burlap sack was waiting for him in his car. What ensues is Elizabeth getting obsessed with the murdered girl, obsessed with contacting Damien again, though she is unsuccessful, burning bridges with her friends due to all her crazy obsessions, and soon whoever took Damien starts playing with her, chatting with her friends, sending her funny video clips, the works. Elizabeth is freaked out. Someone has become fixated on her and yet she has no idea who it is. Things are rapidly getting more extreme.
Who took Damien? Will she ever get him back? Who is playing with her head? What about her made someone obsess over her, to want to psychologically torture her? Why has she been targeted? Will Elizabeth be able to get to the bottom of whatever is going on?
This I watched at the behest of Eric, who was pretty impressed with it, something that does not happen (especially with found footage films) too often. Needless to say, I decided that I would like to watch it. The Den is proof that found footage film can still work. We have been inundated with a load of terrible ones, but this one was not so bad. Sure, the logic was a bit sketchy at times, but we have established that taking a horror type film (though this definitely had more thriller aspects to it) too seriously will cripple the experience. Nevertheless, the acting was not completely fantastic or anything like that, but it worked. The Burlap Sackians (as I have come to call them) were rather creepy, I mean what was that even all about at the end of it all? Also, the film was just the right length, which was not very long at all. It was 81 minutes, and that was just enough to hold your interest, but not stretch it. I know it talks about things we are all familiar with, like the internet, the anonymity of it and all that, and there isn’t really anything new here, no specifically grand scares or anything like that, but it really wasn’t the worst thing ever. I liked it for what it was, and thought it was decent. But again I reiterate, do not go in expecting mindlblowing acting skills though, you will be sorely disappointed. Overall, not the worst time you can spend watching a movie, it was definitely alright, and a much better entry to the found footage genre than we have become used to recently.