Every few years, a film comes out that acts as a cautionary tale about the anonymity of internet chat rooms and the inherent dangers that come with them. These films usually suck, as they explore the issue but never add anything interesting or insightful. It is that these films are works of fiction that give them an incredulous feel; like the film makers are making up the worst possible scenarios, forcing a moral panic about the internet and all of the nutters lurking behind screen names.
Directed by Andrew Douglas and written by Mike Walden, U Want Me 2 Kill Him? is one of these films – the exception being that everything in the film actually happened. Whilst trying to keep this review spoiler free, it is noteworthy that what happens in the film is public knowledge. Well, the stuff we’re allowed to know, that is. Vanity Fair published an extensive article on the subject, so may be worth reading before seeing the film. Focusing on Mark and John (played by Jamie Blackley and Toby Regbo), the story tells how John utilises a variety of internet chat room aliases to deceive Mark into friendship. The plot is too complex to explain briefly. But just like the real deal, it revolves around web of lies and deceit spun by a brilliant but troubled young boy.
In fact, the story of U Want Me 2 Kill Him? is fairly convoluted – but in a good way. It is easy to see why Mark was sucked into all of the lies. The multitude of narratives that John lives out in the internet chat room with Mark all cross over one another very well. The internet chat room is utilised as a story device very well. We get to see the people Mark is talking to (well, the people he thinks he is talking to). We hear their voices as Mark would have imagined them. It all leads to drawing us in, believing in the story and characters. Being deceived as Mark was as he stared for hours at those internet chat rooms. Typing thousands of words of text to people who never really existed. Up until the reveal, it is obvious something is up. But it was just never obvious it was John.
This is credited to Regbo’s performance as the mild-mannered, albeit it slightly odd John. He is like thousands of other kids at secondary school. He feels isolated and just wants friends. John relishes in the newfound friendship of Mark to a point beyond platonic. But no matter how obsessive his friendship to Mark is, he gives off an aura of unsuspecting innocence. Only later on in the narrative is he revealed as someone with sinister motives. Blackley also gives an excellent performance. His metamorphosis from a sixteen year old cheeky-chappy to a dark and reclusive teenager, obsessed with the stories John’s internet chat room counterparts spin is a fascinating example of great character development. Early on in the film, he exhibits tons of charisma, resembling a younger Russell Brand at times. The growing chemistry between the over-confident Mark and the shy, introverted John is interesting to watch.
Whilst Douglas’ execution of the story, and his direction of Regbo and Blackley was on point, issues surrounding the soundtrack and cinematography came through. For the most part, the music that was used in the film did not seem to fit, and the camera work could be a little jarring at times. At the end of watching, it was hard to remember anything outstanding relating to those two categories.
U Want Me 2 Kill Him? has all of the credibility that other films dealing with this subject matter lack. It has a true story behind it. One about an intriguing web of internet deceit and a cautionary chat room tale. Except in this tale, the use of real-life subject matter punctuates the film message. It happened once and it could happen again. U Want Me 2 Kill Him? is a fascinating drama/thriller at how online socialising is becoming more prevalent, and a real-life example of the dangers that come with this. In fact, just a British drama focusing on teens not in skinny jeans and cardigans makes it worth a watch.