Having seen Unfriended and enjoying it more than I thought, I went looking for similar found footage/POV genre flicks and stumbled upon The Den. Garnering solid reviews and many recommendations from users on IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and even YouTube comments I added it to watch list and made it a top priority. I didn’t expect it to be this good, The Den is an effective, very chilling and surprisingly brutal horror that boasts many twisted images and sequences that fill you with dread, but even the build up of terror cannot prepare you for the unfairly messed up climax.
The story follows Elizabeth Benton, a student who achieves funding for a programme that studies online habits of chat group users and webcam users across the world. Collecting and logging data after hours and hours, Elizabeth stumbles across a user who is tied up, gagged, bleeding and whining in fear. Shocked and unsure of what to do, the girl on the cam is attacked and the connection cuts out. The murderer in question has now set his sights on tormenting and tearing apart Elizabeth’s life, threatening her family and ruining her funded programme. Online humiliation and embarrassment is something that is seen online rarely regularly nowadays, and The Den does a superb job of making the dangers of being online with strangers feel real, terrifying and shocking.
I loved the set-up, the Facebook chat and webcam shots are very tight and the characters feel vulnerable as they sit so close to the computer, leaving their surroundings enveloping them, any threat could appear at anytime from anywhere and I liked the unpredictability. There are a handful of well timed and placed jump scares. It seems horror films of today throw in jump scares immediately without any build up to get you feeling on edge, whereas this film makes you wait and when the first jump comes it’s a thrilling jolt. Melanie Papalia’s is superb as lead character Elizabeth Benton, not just a pretty face but a well written character with enough meat for Papalia to work with. I wouldn’t rate her as a memorable horror movie heroine but certainly one that is worth following.
I don’t really have anything wrong with this movie, I can’t pick any holes. Acting is fine, the suspense and scares are effective and the setup is very unique and well executed. It’s not the scariest film I’ve seen but it’s certainly underrated. The finale, however, is balls to the wall insane with teeth gritting tension and so many jumpy moments. The ending is very unfair and I felt so bad for Elizabeth, if you’ve seen Eden Lake with Kelly Reilly then you’ll know what I mean by an unfair ending, and The Den winds you up, cranks it up to 10 and leaves you hanging by the last shot.