Starring Brady Smith, Sarena Khan, Tohoru Masamune
Directed by Matthew Solomon
Face it, people – we’re in the social media age up to our necks, and with the advent of such intently invasive platforms with which to pry ourselves into other’s lives via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and multiple other formats, there’s got to be a scare in there somewhere, right?
In director Matthew Solomon’s latest, Chatter, the viewer’s scare range is limited to a computer screen, where two lovebirds are the focal point, and it’s all brought to you by the magic of Skype. Like the recently released Unfriended, we’re dealt a barrage of close-up shots and behind-the-back frights while someone is blindly entranced at their webcam. For the most part it works for a low-level tension tactic, but for those hardcore shriek-seekers, the idea of watching through your screen into another one for a scaled-down scare might not fit the bill.
David (Smith) and his wife, Laura (Khan), are a couple separated by thousands of miles while she is overseas on business. David’s holing up in their new house back in the States, and it’s through the technology of video phone calls that they’re able to remain in touch for all things cyber-social.
Things appear to be on a normal (almost mundane) level for a while until unexplained sounds begin to occur on David’s end, and it slowly starts to drive a wedge between him and Laura. Visual frights are on the menu with shadowy figures darting into other rooms and random lights-out instances happening more and more frequently, and like I mentioned earlier, some hit the mark and others don’t. If the idea of creeping into this couple’s existence via computer screen isn’t freaky enough, we’re introduced to a character whose job it is to monitor this type of stuff: Department of Homeland Security Agent Martin Takagi (Masamune) is on duty, eyeballing every move while monitoring internet traffic. (This makes you feel really secure, doesn’t it?) His interest is piqued when he first comes upon our terrified twosome, and it becomes a regular obsession. I’m still trying to comprehend his need to be introduced into the film’s storyline, but in any event, he’s another facet and does provide a different viewpoint to the evil activity.
There are a few interesting tweaks and side-paths to the story, but I’ll leave those to the potential viewers; suffice to say they certainly spice up the tempo and act as an adequate filling technique to the plot. As far as performances go, this is where it gets a little tricky to throw down an accurate judgement, mainly due to the fact that in these types of films with a long-duration shot of the actor staring (at times, blindly) back at you in a dazed fashion – all in all both Smith and Khan do a very nice job as the couple in love (and rage). It also didn’t hurt the entire operation that Laura Niles was simply sizzling in her role of Alex – the camera is drawn to her and I’m sure she’ll be solely responsible for many jaws hitting the floor once she’s onscreen.
Overall, Solomon has provided a nice alternative to the normally mundane framework of horror presentations, and although the computer aspect is starting to become more prevalent as a focal piece in these types of films, Chatter is one that should be checked out at least as a one-timer.