Illusion, perception, the minds eye, all are real and all highly influenced by manipulative forces. The visual medium has been used to lure us since our imaginations dawned. From shadow puppets to Polaroid's instant scratchy intrigue, the image and more importantly what lies in the darkness within yet just beyond the image has compelled us. Enter our world today filled with internet webcams, phone cameras, and all manners of surveillance, and what you find yourself living in is a jumbled mix of absolute reality and social media bullshit. Deciphering between the two can be a stressful endeavor that can spread the fragile mind just a little to thin. 'The Den' takes it one step further.
Grad student Elizabeth Benton (Melanie Papalia) has been given a grant to study the online social media site called The Den. Linking up with various types of people across the globe seems like a tame task, but one random connection turns our students world upside down. After witnessing a maybe murder her life and the lives of her closest friends and family are invaded and not their own.
'The Den' is a creepy cautionary tale that has some genuine scares but whose gimmick heavy storytelling can grow tiresome. It's what might happen if Hitchcock's classic 'Rear Window' exited out of boredom leaving 2007's pale yet enjoyable imitation 'Disturbia' to take over and then swirling it all together with a ribbon of 'Hostel' just for kicks. A lazy evening viewing is cool but nothing overwhelmingly special overall.
IFC Midnight has given us a very nice DVD package. The image and sound are quite decent. The special features include an interesting Behind the Scenes look at the production and its players, the trailer, and a commentary featuring writer/director Zachary Donohue and producers Dan Clifton and David Brooks. Mr Donohue in particular is very interesting to listen to and equally proud of his first feature film.
The internet and social media in general is a vast desert of who knows what is truly lurking out there. 'The Den' takes us on a journey that is filled with unanswered questions and a general reassurance that perhaps accepting every friend request may not be the best idea.