OK, so here’s a poser for you:

Let’s just say you are a heavily pregnant young woman, living in a large house on your own, when you receive a phone call from your younger sister.

She seems quite hysterical, screaming at you that somebody is in the house and you should get out as fast as you can – via the front door.

Do you:

a)      Do exactly as she says, quickly exiting the house as she has made it very clear to you that YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER?

 

Or do you:

 

b)      Hear a sound coming from the kitchen, and decide to go back in the house, muttering the obligatory ‘Hello? HELLO?’ along the way?

I think you can probably tell from the tone of this introduction which option the makers of Hacked (or The Den as it appeared at Frightfest a couple of years back) go for roughly two thirds through the movie and that, my friends, was the exact moment I gave up on this film.

Which is a shame, as for that first 45 minutes or so, director Zachary Donohue’s offering is pretty interesting – quirkily made and relatively intriguing.

But boy does that dumb decision trigger a change in tone, with the final third of the film a collection of one stupid plot development after another, culminating in a final reveal that is both bloody ridiculous and wildly implausible.

Anyhow, onto the plot.

We get thrown in to the internet-dominated life of grad student Elizabeth (Melanie Papalia), who is seeking funding for a project looking at the habits of webcam chat users.

Elizabeth decides to focus on social media website The Den, which allows members to spark up conversations from random other members around the world – or ignore them if they so wish – a sort of mash-up of facebook, twitter and tinder.

The student gets her funding, forcing her to indulge in a 24/7 web existence, recording all of her interactions – at the expense of the relationships with her boyfriend, family etc.

Things take a huge turn for the sinister though when Elizabeth hooks up with one member, only to seemingly see her being knifed to death on screen.

Naturally the student wants to get to the bottom of the mystery and before long she is neck-deep in turmoil, with her family and friends also in the firing line.

Was what she saw on screen just fake (which the police think is the case) or is something much, much more troubling afoot……

Donohue takes the decision to present the entire film, which has a brisk 76-minute running time, via computer screen images.

It’s an interesting choice, and you do get used to it pretty quickly, but, as with found footage flicks, you find yourself constantly asking just why the person would have a webcam on at that moment (or be recording that) – a chat with a police officer at the local station a good example.

On the plus side, Papalia makes for a likeable lead (and is pretty easy on the eye to boot), although she clearly has online issues, having appeared in the similarly-themed (and disgracefully bad) Smiley before this outing.

And, when you wade through the crap, Donohue does make some slightly interesting observations regarding our online activities and the lengths we will go to for satisfaction on the web.

But the whole thing, sadly, gets buried beneath a cacophony of carnage and plot irritations at the close that undo all of the good work that went before – marking Hacked as a missed opportunity.

 

Rental Review: Hacked
2.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.