EIFF 2013: UWANTME2KILLHIM? Movie Review
With heavyweight names like The Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer, Winter’s Bone producer Steven Golin and even the Oscar winning Weinsteins on board as producers, one might expect Uwantme2killhim? to be one of the standout films at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival. However, while this adaptation of a true story from 2003 is a well-executed thriller full of twists and turns, the film reeks of the ridiculous and incredible.
Uwantme2killhim? opens with our protagonist Mark (Jamie Blackley), a popular teenager at a London comprehensive, brutally stabbing a fellow high schooler John (Toby Regbo). From there, it flashes back and forth between his sentence in custody and the events that proceeded the crime as detective Sarah Clayton (Joanne Frogart) attempts to decipher the reason why it happened.
The story follows Mark who regularly talks to an older girl, Rachel (Jaime Winstone), over an instant messaging program. Speaking to Mark is a chance to escape from her violent boyfriend with whom she lives under witness protection, all the while he becomes infatuated by this good-looking online girl, enjoying her company more than his girlfriend or parents.
Unable to see her family, Rachel asks him to look after her brother who goes to high school with Mark: a loner named John. Weeks later, however, after an unlikely friendship begins between the pair and Mark loses contact with Rachel, John reveals that his sister has been killed by her boyfriend – though the police suspect that it was only suicide – prompting the duo to begin plotting a violent revenge.
Obviously applying the wisdom of Bryan Singer, director Andrew Douglas tells the story specifically from the point of view of Mark. Everything that occurs in the film is portrayed exactly the way it was seen through his eyes in the moment it occurred with the reality of the situation only revealed in the film’s finale. In doing so, Uwantme2killhim? attempts to perform the kind of dramatic slight of hand that made The Usual Suspects so compelling. For the most part, it’s successful. Knowing exactly where to divulge slithers of information while keeping its cards close to its chest, it creates an aurora of mystery and suspense throughout that leaves you guessing right until the final frame.
However, where Uwantme2killhim? falls short in its realization of the world in which Mark and John live. The film aspires to portray how teenagers like these have marked their territory on the internet – a realm which they can call their own – but the film’s portrayal of technology and living through the blossoming of the digital age is staggeringly fumbled. It’s as if it’s created by people who simply don’t understand either. The use of internet lexicon is clichéd, for instance, and characters narrate their typing out loud in a way that’s daft and wholly unrealistic. In any other film this may only be a petty flaw, but when it forms perhaps the central theme in Uwantme2killhim? it becomes a critical error.
Uwantmetokillhim? shows at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 25th and 26th