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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Den
The Den
MPI Home Video // R // July 29, 2014
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted September 5, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Den:
IFC Midnight got some serious ju-ju going on, man. Every now and then a genre imprint steps up to start releasing a ton of fine content, and this, apparently, is IFC's time. In addition to Haunt, Almost Human and many others, comes The Den an almost comically smart and successful horror picture that will make your skin crawl. Writer/Director Zachary Donohue has finally figured out a way to tap into the Internet zeitgeist in order to craft a horror film that's both seriously scary and assuredly entertaining. It's totally worth your time.

Following way back on the heels of Fear Dot Com and Pulse, The Den boldly goes where no other movie has gone before. Not only has it proved extremely difficult to make a horror movie about Internet usage, it's been a non-starter for movies in general, with only The Social Network meaning a damn thing. Nonetheless, Donohue forges ahead, stringing a tiny plot on a brisk cat-and-mouse game. It's not even really about Internet usage per-se, rather the delivery of information that mimics the Internet experience perfectly. And when that information is terribly creepy, you've written your ticket to sequel-ville.

Elizabeth Denton, (Melanie Papalia) a chipper grad student, cooks up a pretty soggy thesis; she's going to log on to an Internet chat site known as 'The Den', and stay logged on 24/7 for thirty days, in order to explore the habits of its users. Complications arise with her mentor, boyfriend, and girlfriends, none of which mean much in the scheme of things. The real hitch? A mysterious user who won't leave Elizabeth alone, a user who goes from irritating to possibly murderous within a very short time.

In a rapturous 73 minutes for horror fans, Donohue seizes control of your click-addicted minds, presenting his story through multiple windows and tabs, scrolling through data, sleazy chat-room denizens, and peeved paramours with breathless elan. Papalia is likable, believable, and vulnerable as she closes window after window of losers asking to see her boobs, before arriving at that one weirdo she tries to shut down because the creep factor is too real. After these utterly engrossing scenes that our computerized brains have been trained to lap up like milk, stretches of uneasy quiet find Elizabeth's webcam watching her as she sleeps.

Tension mounts painfully as Snapchat meets a brutal form of Paranormal Activity, and the movie only slightly loses its way when Elizabeth becomes hunted IRL, (in real life for you expat netizens) complete with a chase scene in a dank basement, and the ever-popular shot of someone being dragged away by the ankles. Once past that point, my fear-loving friends, get ready for a denoument that leaves your hair on end and your heart sinking like a stone. The Den is simply another little masterpiece of smart horror that overcomes the 'Internet Themed' odds to wind up Highly Recommended.

The DVD

Video:
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, The Den looks really good. Wonderful use of light is made throughout the film, and its alternately warm or cold glow reinforces the atmosphere of confusion and fear. Colors are reproduced nicely, black levels are good and fleshtones look natural. No compression errors or other (unintentional) digital glitches to speak of.

Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio in English will get under your skin, with good and creepy directional reproduction of computer noises, people sneaking around, and hearty screams. Dialog is clear and upfront.

Extras:
Included for your discernment is an entertaining Commentary Track with Writer/Director Zachary Donohue, and Producers Dan Clifton and David Brooks, who divulge a plethora of behind the scenes goodness. You also get a brief, 3-minute Behind The Scenes featurette, and the original Trailer, plus other Trailers. English SDH subtitling, and Spanish Subtitles are also on hand.

Final Thoughts:
The Den is simply another little masterpiece of smart horror that overcomes the 'Internet Themed' odds to wind up Highly Recommended.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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