In 2003, a crime took place that made British legal history; one that shook the lives of a small community, and whose waves reverberated across the entire nation…bringing to the surface latent fears about the safety of the internet, as a new space of danger, deception and deceit. A crime of such dramatic magnitude was always going to draw the attention of filmmakers, which leads us to Uwantme2killhim? – a film that is deeply flawed but extremely interesting in terms of its social narrative.

Uwantme2killhim follows 16-year-old Mark, a handsome and popular boy, who meets local girl Rachel on the Internet. He quickly finds himself in an intense online relationship. Besotted, he will do anything for her – even befriend and defend her bullied, loner brother, John. When Rachel, who is trapped in an abusive relationship, is murdered, Mark and John are determined to avenge her death. Their actions draw the attention of a female MI5 agent as they unwittingly stumble into an ongoing operation. Soon, Mark is recruited to commit a devastating crime…one that will change both Mark and John forever.

uwantThe film beautifully taps into the enigmatic nature of online social communication, in particular the dislocation between the imagined and the real, a theme that is crucial to the narrative and the thematic punch of the film. For most of the duration, the film feels almost clunky in its delivery and narrative organization; in particular, the use of a flashback structure breaks down the rhythm of the film, without developing the role of Joanne Froggatt’s determined detective above anything other than a cipher to push the film towards it’s revealing twist. However, once the film reaches its climatic revelation, the structure of the film, upon analysis, gains more depth. Indeed, the excessive nature of earlier plot points and character delivery that previously felt so forced and at times laughable…suddenly become a part of a greater web of deception, reflecting narrative through formal construction; a bold decision that makes the experience of watching the film both difficult and rewarding.

The film is grounded visually with a sense of verisimilitude, reminiscent of social realist cinema; however, Uwantme2killhim? is unable to channel that specific style’s gritty comment on the social situation of the time. Instead, the film’s dull and ordinary visual palette holds the film back, especially considering the more interesting flourishes from director Andrew Douglas; in particular the heightened colours associated with the instant message service Mark uses to chat with Rachel and her best friend. This visual strategy emphasizes the heightened importance Mark places upon his online life in contrast to his school life, and also subtly suggests the dangers and deceptive nature of the Internet as a multifaceted space that hides darker truths behind an attractive façade. However, despite such touches, the overall film feels too static and conventionally “British” in its tone and style, when it could have been far more dynamic and inventive.

One of the film’s great successes comes in the form of the two young leads. In the film’s central role, Jamie Blackley perfectly articulates the complex character of Mark, the boy next door who is driven to the darkest place by an obsession that overwhelms him. Blackley manages to utilize his physical presence to portray Mark as a believable, attractive and likeable kid; but as the film progresses, he is able to slowly reveal the subtle ticks of his character’s darker personality, one driven by adolescent emotion into an obsessive revenge quest. Such a character shift would have been far more unpalatable if it wasn’t for the bravery and skill of this young actor, who surely deserves to go on to bigger and brighter things. Toby Regbo is the other standout performer as the awkward and lonely John, who finds a companion in Mark. Regbo is able to balance the gentle and endearing nature John projects, with the negative aspects of his character’s damaged and desperate personality as a victim in need of a hero. His performance is equally as impressive as Blackley’s own, with the two actors complimenting each other perfectly.  Together they develop a believable and powerful chemistry that is the emotional core of the film, reinforcing the themes and social anxieties around the increasingly detached and obsessive online-based lives of young teenagers today.

Uwantme2killhim? is an un-even true crime thriller that suffers from tonal inconsistencies. However, the film’s dynamic twist is so unbelievable that it manages to resonate and enhances the film’s effect to the point where it changes from feeling formulaic and clichéd, into a far more knowing film that plays with the illusions and desperation of youth, and how damaging unchecked fantasies can be, for the object of desire…and the beholder.

VERDICT: [rating=3]

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk