April 3, 2014

VOD Review: The Den (2014)

Elizabeth is a grad student who just landed herself the dream grant that she's been waiting for, which will finally enable to do her brilliant Social Media Thesis. Her plan is to spend a few months video chatting with strangers around the world on a social site called The Den, documenting all of it, and somehow saving the world through her endeavors.

We're pretty sure that she was just angling to get paid while sitting around in her pajamas and chatting online, but who are we to judge? That sounds like a dream job to us.

Anywho, she eventually comes across some online creeper who kills a chick on camera. Freaked out, she goes to the Police with video of the incident who give her the old "Sure looks real, but don't worry about it" routine. In fact, as she delves deeper and deeper into the seedy mysteries of The Den, her friends and family start disappearing and getting killed off, which still doesn't seem to alarm the Police, or anyone else for that matter

What follows next can only be described as a series of events that is so inane that not even the most forgiving among us could swallow it as "real" or even "fake as hell, but fun."

Not gonna lie, that's pretty creepy.
The Den really had us in its grasp for about its first half hour or so. The idea of a girl witnessing a murder on a social site, and then being hacked and toyed with by the killer, was really interesting, and it truly made for some tense and genuinely creepy moments...

... and then the movie decided to shift into ultra-silly Torture Porn mode, thus killing everything that it had going for it.

***BEWARE OF SPECIFIC PLOT SPOILERS*** The gist of the whole thing is that you never know who you're talking to on the Internet, and that at any moment, a cabal of murderers will hack your computer (and life), because they want to kill you and everyone you know, while recording it all (of course.) Then, they upload your video "murder narrative" onto their website, and the ordinary people of the world will pay $100 a pop to watch it. ***SPECIFIC SPOILERS ARE DONE, PROCEED***

That's really where this movie loses it for us: when it felt like this was the work of one deranged guy with a sick hobby, The Den worked very well. Alright, maybe not "very" well, but it worked well enough to keep us engaged. It had promise. Instead of keeping things simple though, and focusing on the terrifying nature of being stalked, the filmmakers decided to get heavy handed with the message, and make it about a highly-skilled and tech savvy organization of Serial Killers. It all felt very Hostel-like by the end, but it was nowhere near as effective or genuine as the Eli Roth films.

People. People who like watching people. Are the creepiest people, in the world.
The Den's premise was interesting, and the way that the filmmakers set up their online world was pretty well done. We totally bought into the "Chatroulette" aspect of things right away, and the creepy moments that happened early on, genuinely had us on edge.

Also good, was the star of the movie, Melanie Papalia; she really does have a natural charisma about her, and even as the movie wore on and frustrated us more and more, she did not falter in her acting duties. She gave us a very likable character to root for, and and she basically made the movie watchable. Also, she's really hot.

Nice "acting duties," baby.
What was with the Police & authority figures in this movie? A girl brings them a video of a supposed murder, and they tell her "It sure looks real" and "It's probably nothing though, because these types of things happen all the time" basically in the same breath. They don't bother to have their Cyber Crimes department look into the website or the screen name from which the video came, they don't check any phone records or anything, they just send the terrifying girl on her way.

Later, when her boyfriend disappears and seems to be the victim of foul play, they yell at her for wasting their time, because "there's no proof!" At this point, wouldn't they just investigate this girl's claims even if it was only to prove her crazy, and lock her up for wasting their time or something?

Not even her trusted College Professor wants to hear boo from her when the killer emails a sex video of her to the group that gave her the grant money. No, they were just like "You're done, slut!" Forget that she's clearly distraught, just dismiss her and be done with it.

Don't check out that out-of-place laptop that's oddly sitting on the floor in the empty house though, Police. There's probably no clues on that.
Elizabeth's pleas for help were just too conveniently dismissed by everyone, which leads us to wonder if the Police will ever think that foul play was afoot when she, and everyone in her life, disappears without a trace. What about the Cops that are killed? When those Officers don't show up at end of watch, and they're either found dead or no one can find them anywhere at all, wouldn't a massive alarm be raised, and everything Elizabeth said be investigated by both local and Federal agencies?

Don't even get us started on how a website exists where you can pay to watch snuff videos with your credit card.... or why anyone would want to give their personal information out to any website that makes and sells snuff videos to begin with. And wouldn't one of those people see the media shitstorm about missing/murdered Cops who were investigating Elizabeth's snuff claims, and say "those videos were real, the Police need to know about this website!?"


The old "film everything" gag that is ever-present in Found Footage flicks was in its glory in The Den, and it worked well for the most part, but there were still parts of the movie that had us saying "why would anybody be recording this?"

The worst part of the whole thing is that at certain points in the film, we weren't sure how some of the characters are even producing the "live" footage. At other points, weren't sure why they are even doing so.

In once scene, the killer poses as Elizabeth, and invites her best friend to come over right away, because she needs to "see something." She says "sure thing," because they're besties and all, and proceeds to get up from her bed where she's video chatting, walk out of the house and over to Elizabeth's place, all of which is filmed. Did she really walk over to her friends house with her laptop? Has anybody ever really seen someone walking down the street, video chatting with a laptop?

Or how about when Elizabeth, worried for her sister's life, rushes to her aid? Is she filming everything with her cellphone or something? Because that scene (along with a few others) was shot FROM her POV, which doesn't fit in with her excuse of filming everything for her social media thesis, because she's filming her life at that point.

Little things like this killed the mood and believability of the movie, and made everything go downhill pretty fast for us.

"Sure I'll be your friend, Count Chocula."
There's plenty of blood and Torture-Porny violence to be had here. The headshot was probably our favorite bit.

We get a naked guy doing flapjacks with his joint on webcam... and we're talking full-on penis swinging here. Other than that, there's a scene with a guy going down on a girl, but it involves no nudity. So, penis, and that's about it.

The Den was a missed opportunity that started off well enough, and then devolved into a generic, unbelievable Found Footage mess. Fans who are only in it for the gore and cheap scares will love this one, as long as they don't care much about plot or realism... which is a sad thing to say about a Found Footage flick, because realism is basically their hallmark.

For everyone else, if you want to see a genuinely gripping and terrifying movie about the dangers of the Internet, go and find yourself a copy of Megan is Missing, and enjoy not sleeping for the rest of the night.

The Den is available now on VOD and in Limited Theatrical release.


Melanie Papalia is a good little actress who deserves better projects with with to showcase her talents. She's too perky and QT to be ignored for long, and one of these days, she'll land herself a good role in a solid flick. We just know it.



  1. Thank you for (yet again) wasting your time so that I don't have to waste mine.


  2. You're welcome, Phil, but it was NOT our pleasure lol

  3. Solid review again. My wife and I actually liked this one, but the police behavior was nauseatingly bad.

    Great case of just suspending logic and enjoying the ride (should take my own advice more often)


  4. I still don't get the ending