2 1/2 STARS
Everything about Chatroom sounds interesting. A brit thriller by acclaimed Japanese horror director Hideo Nakato , starring an up-and-coming young UK cast with boy-of-the-moment Aaron Johnson at the helm. With a premise that sees five teenagers randomly connect in the chatroom ‘Chelsea Teens!’, set up by good-looking loner, William (Johnson), and accommodating Eva (posh Chelsea girl, having an identity crisis), Emily (geeky girl), Jim (awkward loner) and Mo (in love with a girl he shouldn’t be).
Now, showing a group of anguished teens stroppily typing away at their laptop isn’t the most cinematic of conventions, so Nakata constructs an alternative world which sees the cast interact in various different rooms (get it?). Imagine a hotel corridor with numerous doors, decorated with faux distressed paint, and you kind of get the picture.
But William hasn’t created this room to make friends; he intends on manipulating his captivated audience and instigates all sorts of twisted games in order to cause as much devastation as possible.
While the film sounds promising, what Nakata delivers is an angst-ridden teenager drama (a la Skins), that touches on the darker side of the Internet, but never really ventures any deeper. This is a juicy role for Johnson, and it should have given him the opportunity to show off his acting chops, but he fails to offer up the complexities of William, and as such, all we see are the Jekyll and Hyde element to his character. The rest of the cast are strong, with Matthew Beard standing out (last seen as Carey Mulligan’s awkward boyfriend in An Education, before Peter Sarsgaard came along and swept her away).
While it is interesting in places, it feels like a somewhat disappointing entry from the director that delivered cult classic Ringu.