You may have seen the previews for the new horror movie “Catfish.” If you were prepared to invite a special someone in hopes of clinging to each other in a mix of fear, passion and hormones, you should rethink your agenda.
The self-marketed horror is a letdown for thriller fans. Don’t think this film is down for the count just yet; the film still has a lot to offer.
The documentary is not another “Paranormal Activity,” “Cloverfield” or “Blair Witch Project.” It is – at least the filmmakers claim it is – the real deal.
The story follows Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, a photographer. He receives a Facebook message from 8-year-old painting prodigy Abby, who asks permission to paint his photos. They quickly form a friendship made up of packages of paintings mailed from rural Michigan, and endearing Facebook messages. Nev is a likeable, funny guy who makes it easy to get caught up in the story. He is the perfect star of a documentary that is so honest, raw and thoughtful.
Nev meets the rest of the family, mostly through Facebook, and a few exchanged phone calls. But, these friendly dynamics are changed when Nev begins talking to Abby’s 19-year-old sister Megan. After months of late-night romantic phone conversations and flirtatious text messages, Nev and Megan begin to fall for each other.
With the encouragement of the filmmakers who are Nev’s roommates, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, the trio head out for a road trip to discover the truth about Nev’s new friends, the “Facebook family.”
At this point in the preview, the movie takes a dramatic turn for the worse. As the group arrives at a desolate, eerie farmhouse in the middle of the night the screen turns black and is filled with quotes like, “The best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never directed,” from critics
The preview makes it seem like this dark scene from the countryside is just the beginning of a conglomeration of terrifying horror shots dubbed with ominous music. But this is the most blood-rushing piece of the entire film.
It isn’t that the film is boring, just deceitful. The film is only horrifying under the pretense that Nev could be unknowingly sexting a 40-year-old pedophile. As scary as that is, it’s no Hitchcock.
But the film does come at the perfect point for our social-networking generation. Paired alongside the hit “The Social Network,” these movies take a critical look at our use of technology to communicate.
“Catfish” brilliantly incorporated graphics from Facebook and Google Maps during the editing process. Character development is partially done through scrolling through Facebook pages, messages and pictures, as if you’re actually “creeping” on a character’s Facebook page.
The fun graphic elements are paired with artistic shots from the creative minds of the filmmakers that you won’t find in other movies.
It’s no wonder the film was so masterfully edited. It was in the hands of an Academy Award nominated director. Andrew Jarecki, director of the documentary “Capturing the Friedmans,” produced and edited “Catfish.”
The trio claims that the movie is the real thing, that nothing was staged. But the movie is still under the critical eye of many. The truthful events and realistic message are interesting nonetheless.
The movie is driven by an exciting plot twist that inspired the movie’s tagline, “Don’t let anyone tell you what it is.” The mystery that the movie is wrapped up in is packaged as a thrilling shock. While this isn’t exactly true, heed the warning of the tagline. While the twist is no “Psycho,” it is still the premise of the entire second half of the film.
Don’t be fooled by the ominous trailer. “Catfish” is no nail-biter. But the tale still has terrific qualities that make it worth the watch. The film originally was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January and slowly gained the momentum to be released in theaters across the nation.
While discussions of Internet identity fraud were first sparked with cautionary media productions like “To Catch A Predator,” “Catfish” offers a much more tender, thoughtful contribution to the debate. The Internet has undoubtedly shaped and manipulated our lives. This movie digs into the implications of the influence of technology.
If you are casting your line out in hopes of the bite of a horror movie, throw back “Catfish.” But if you’re in the mood for a sympathetic, authentic film about real people, then “Catfish” will do the trick.