Movie Review: THE DEN


THE DEN is directed by Zach Donahue and stars Melanie Papalia, Adam Shapiro, David Schlactenhaufen and Matt Riedy.

The movie follows Elizabeth, a graduate student who receives a grant to explore a video chat social site called The Den and the habits of its users. During one her her chat sessions, Elizabeth thinks she witnesses a teenage girl get violently murdered but the police dismiss it as a viral prank. What happens is, her computer gets hacked and this is where everything begins to spiral dangerously out of control for Elizabeth and everyone she’s close to.

Elizabeth begins to witness weird things happening around her that can’t be explained. At first it’s just these odd occurrences online that’s happening but then her friends and family innocently get involved and life begins to get turned upside down for Elizabeth who just can’t seem to stay away from The Den.

While things continue to go down hill for Elizabeth, the movie quickly shifts gears from this online horror show to a home invasion horror-thriller and this is an underground world that she will never escape from. We do get to see the mysterious masked tormentors a little  before they get their hands on her but once Elizabeth finally encounters these masked monsters, we get a good look at them and the true horrifying violence they are capable of. Elizabeth gets abducted and finds herself a prisoner in the layer of this cyber group. The layer (let’s call it The Den tooand the other victims who are there, reminded me a little of the Saw movies with how it’s all set up. Elizabeth tries to fight her way out of her new prison but at the end, it’s just a deadly game for her masked tormentors and Elizabeth is their latest potential victim to share with the users who log onto The Den.

Okay, The Den started off a little slow, sort of a slow burn but once the movie got going, things got crazy, the suspense built and it didn’t let down until the shocking ending and there is definitely a payoff! The real life kicker here is the fact that we all know about chat rooms, we’re all aware of the sick and twisted kind of people who lurk out there. We’re all aware of cyber hackers who can really do some damage, in this case it all gets uber deadly. If you think you’re all burnt out on “found footage” movies, this one is set up a little different. Donahue uses screen in screens in multiple ways that gives the viewer a POV look at what’s happening at times. I will say some of the screen shifting got on my nerves a few times but it was still a creative way to tell the story. Now, the movie doesn’t stay in this mode all the way through, especially when the mysterious masked tormentors get in the picture and pretty much take over the show, this is when things got really good, horrifyingly good and we get some full screen action to go along with it! I enjoyed the entire cast but Melanie Papalia put on a show as she went from a happy college student to someone fighting for their life. against the unknown.

Bottom line is, The Den is an insane shocker that sends the viewer into the dark world of social sites and some of the sickos that lurk on them. This will make you think twice before you sign on to your computer again and leaving it on when you’re not around. While the movie does have its flaws, it’s also one that will stay with you and haunt you! The Den drops in select theaters and On Demand March 14th and is one that shouldn’t be missed!

Distributor: IFC Midnight

Run Time: 81 Minutes

Rated: R

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