Review: ‘Chatter’ Explores Nature Of Connectivity
By J. Carlos Menjivar
The internet has globalized the world like no other technology has in the history of mankind, yet at the same it has created an ironic rift between individuals. Technology and connectivity have created a vicarious experience in which we live through our machines, and our necessity of usage and dependability has only grown by leaps and bounds.
Chatter, is about that tech world, the one that surrounds and engulfs society, and allows for unlimited information and connections to individuals world-wide; something that was unfathomable decades ago and only existed in distant futures in science-fiction films. David (Brady Smith) and Laura Cole (Sarena Khan) are a married couple, currently in a long-distance relationship. Laura works in London, and with her distant endeavor soon to end, she’ll be able to join her film composer husband in Los Angeles in their new apartment (which he is currently moving them into). Their relationship is tenuously held through video chat and they do everything together: from eating their meals and sharing in conversation, watching each other sleep, and online phone sex. Slowly secrets of their past and their indiscretions are revealed, while Laura harbors a bit of jealousy when– through a video chat– notices their realtor Alex (Laura Niles) and her attractiveness.
The entire perspective of the film is of Homeland Security agent Martin Takagi (Tohoru Masamune) as he shows up to yet another day at work sifting through people’s mundane personal video calls in an attempt to keep the country safe from potential threats. What leads Takagi to find interest in these two lovebirds is Laura’s beauty and his voyeuristic interest in the sexual. The first time we meet Laura is through a shot of her cleavage as she hovers over her computer. But soon Agent Takagi gets more than he bargained for when strange paranormal happenings begin to transpire in the new apartment, sparking an interest in a possibly dangerous situation.
Chatter, is an effectively insightful film that is full of frights while exploring the nature of connectivity, making a case for the ineffectiveness of long-distance digital relationships and the human desire for intimately tactile relationships. Director Matthew Solomon explores our tech-connected culture with Hitchcockian obsession, as the audience partakes in Takagi’s peeping Tom perspective. The film is indicative of the nature of voyeurism placing the viewer in a situation where one is forced to watch another’s life, but yet is too intrigued to look away (film’s are after all voyeuristic, and if we had no interest in other people’s lives, whether fictional or real, then there would never be an interest in film or television). In the era of sharing through social media, and such phone apps as Periscope, Chatter, is as relevant and as timely as ever.
Chatter offers an intriguing perspective as a quasi-found footage film, managing to transcend that, while fluently and adeptly navigating through the genre exploring themes of technology and human relationships. The film proposes its thesis through familiar screens of technology as the paranormal forces in the new apartment intensify and David’s reality begins to unravel in instability and hallucinations. There are some truly frightening moments in the film, as it begins to take shape as a tale of a haunted home, while further secrets, and the forces behind the ephemeral, are revealed. The film is accompanied by a fantastic and eerie score by Rick Butler and Fred Rapoport that adds to the film’s scenes of dread. The entire film feels like an inescapable trap set-up by the individuals involved, framed within the confines of their own technology (ie: phone screens, monitors) unable to escape a power beyond them. In fact, we never see them outside of these tech screens, from the start our characters have already built their own prisons, bound by their dependability of technology. Chatter is a thought provoking and penetrating transcendental modern horror tale told in astounding Hitchcockian form– Rear Window meets Paranormal Activity.
Chatter is an award-winning film currently on the festival circuit. It currently won the coveted Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Festival 2016 award for Best Horror Feature. It played last year at RIP Horror Film Festival and Shriekfest.
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