Ben Boyd (played by Jonah Bobo) is a typically reclusive teenager who struggles to fit in at his high school and spends most of his time on his music or online. His father, Rich (by Jason Bateman) is a busy lawyer and his mother, Lydia (by Hope Davis) tries her best to maintain a relationship with her son, although she can see he’s a bit of a misfit. Ben’s sister, Abby (by Haley Ramm), just treats him as “her annoying brother” most of the time. Unbeknown to the family, two of Ben’s classmates, Jason (by Colin Ford) and Frye (by Aviad Bernstein), make him the target of their cruel on-line bullying campaign. Across town, Cindy Hull (by Paula Patton) is desperate for attention from her husband Derek (by Alexander Skarsgård), but he’s so caught up in his money worries and bringing in enough to support the household and his online gambling habit, that he hasn’t noticed Cindy for some time. For companionship, she turns to an on-line social networking group and a friend she chats with regularly. Go-getting reporter, Nina Dunham (by Andrea Riseborough), is writing a piece about on-line prostitution and exploitation, so she involves young performer Kyle (by Max Thieriot) in her story then a dangerous attempt to rescue him. These seemingly isolated situations suddenly become intertwined when things start to go wrong, trusts are broken and safety is put at risk as the impact of online interactions starts to take hold on the people involved. Is this what has become of our world as people try to live in the increasingly connected, disconnected society we find ourselves in?
This movie is a well-made, thought provoking thriller made all the better as it creates several realistic scenarios about the impact of online interactions, social networking pitfalls and general actions when people attempt to fulfil their social needs online. It proposes the likelihood of dangerous consequences, often quite unforseen and certainly unintended, when things start to go wrong and humans take action based on their interpretation of and interaction with the digital world. It’s interesting and a little scary, given it could easily all be happening right now. A couple’s personal data is leaked online; a teenager is driven to suicide through bullying; a do-gooder thinks a prostitute needs to be “saved”; a teenager is traumatised and frightened through the actions of his distant and cruel father who thinks he’s doing the best he can to bring up his son. The best work done here is by Jonah Bobo as the tormented teenager Ben, Max Thieriot is great as “entertainer” Kyle and Alexander Skarsgård portrays multi-layered Derek very well – but there are lots of great performances. Overall, it’s good, well done everyone.
Made in 2012. Directed by Henry Alex Rubin