The Den (Movie review)

The Den is the feature film directorial debut from Zachary Donohue.  First released in Russia in December 2013 it received a limited theatrical release in North America in early 2014 and is now available on Video on Demand via IFC Midnight as of March 14 and DVD as of July 29th.  Shot in lost footage style, through a webcam, The Den is perhaps one of the best horror films of the sub-genre.

Still from "The Den"
Still from “The Den”

Elizabeth Benton, also known as Liz (Melanie Papalia:- Confined 2010, Darkness 2012), is a young, beautiful, talented woman who is hoping to study the worldwide web for her thesis. The college board gives her a unique interview via webcam and she later finds out that she has been accepted and will receive a grant for her research.  Liz opts to use the site `The Den` for her research. Once Liz logs on, her pleasant world as she knows it is irreparably broken. She hopes to contact as many people as possible, and as one can imagine some of those people are definitely unusual.  She spends most of her waking hours online, and logs off the site at night time, or so she thinks. Her computer seems to start thinking for itself, taking videos of intimate moments between Liz and her boyfriend and sending the footage to the college board. This is the first of many violating moments that appear to come out of nowhere.

Not long into her using the site, she starts receiving strange messages attached to a web photo from someone who she believes is a young girl. Strange things then start happening to Liz and everyone she cares about which include her boyfriend Damien (David Schlachtenhaufen: Yard Sale 2010, When Aliens Attack 2011), her friend Max (Adam Shaprio: The Interview 2011, Now you See me 2013), and her pregnant sister Lynn (Anna Margaret Hollyman: The Brave One 2007, White Reindeer 2013).

Still from "The Den"
Still from “The Den”

Liz starts coming apart at the seams, and when she loses her college grant, the rest of her life starts unraveling too. She starts receiving threatening and violent messages from the username Pyagrl*16 which quickly become more twisted. The Police do not believe her and even the disappearance of some of her loved ones does not pique their interest. Eventually however, they have no choice but to believe her, but even this does not help Liz.

Something twisted and evil is taking hold of Liz`s computer and her life, and no matter how much she fights, she seems set to lose. When the person from the other end of the screen starts physically entering Liz`s world, all hope is lost.  It is truly scary to think that this could indeed happen, and The Den makes that possibility very believable.

Still from "The Den"
Still from “The Den”

What the movie Hostel (2005) did for tourists overseas, The Den does for internet users. The movie is fast paced and highly suspenseful, with plenty of twists and turns. With the majority of the free world living their lives predominantly online, this movie takes a scary approach to the online universe, and possibly make a huge impact on how people use their computers.  It does leave viewers with more questions than answers, and will have many turning off their laptop for several hours after.   Brilliantly acted, with a limited cast and outstanding effects, The Den is a must watch for horror fans.  CrypticRock gives this movie a 5 out of 5.

IFC Midnight

Purchase The Den on DVD here

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