I was given the opportunity to do a film review by a friend of mine, John N. Collins, who runs the websites, Weird Review and The Popcorn Games. The film is called “Chatter“ which is a suspense/horror film. . It was written by Joshua Carl Allen, Jeremy Fox, and Matthew Solomon who is also the director.
I was certainly down for reviewing it, but truth be told, a bit skeptical. I am not a big horror film fan for one, and was hoping it wasn’t in the ‘torture porn,’ or ‘found footage categories. I was pleased to find out it wasn’t the former, but slightly leans in the found footage direction. Again, skeptical am I.
My wife and I sat down on our couch, and began the film.
The film begins with a very real scene between a father (Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica) and a daughter (Alison Haislip) video chatting. Without giving too much away, let me say that crap goes down pretty quick. The musical score (By Rick Butler and Fred Rapoport) sets the tone of the film very well. Just five minutes into the movie my wife and I are already at the edges of our seats. This is a powerful statement since my wife isn’t easily startled and I being an author that can see a plot coming from a mile away.
The film cuts away from the video chat to a more conventional third person film style, and we are introduced to the character Martin Takagi. (Played both with creepiness and fear by Tohoru Masamune of “Inception” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”)
Takagi who is apparently assigned to another terrifying entity; Homeland Security for some unknown reason is ordered to watch the video communication of a Mrs. Laura and Mr. David Cole. (Played with complete brilliance and believability by Sarena Khan. [The Strangers Kiss, Cavemen] and Brady Smith [Happyland, Parks and Recreation].)
Again, we are drawn back to the video chat style of photography. While at first this may seem like a gimmick, it is a brilliant choice by the director, and actually makes the film more terrifying, as it establishes a feeling of isolation and utter helplessness for the viewer and the characters.
David and Laura Cole are separated by their jobs with Laura working in London, and David in L.A. as a musical composer. This situation both legitimizes the video chat rationale and explains, partially, why Homeland Security is observing the conversation. It’s also the point which I felt the film was about to take a left turn.
At first glance, Serena Khan is breathtakingly beautiful eye candy, and Brady Smith your standard beefcake Hollywood male. Being far from each other, they quickly engage in a little “Sexy Time,” to which our friendly neighborhood government spook and perv watches. It’s about this point I’m about ready to give up on the film thinking it’s going to filled with shlock nudity and gratuitous sex.
However, that doesn’t happen. The filmmaker cuts away and we are introduced to Tagaki’s boss, (James James) who in a very subdued way inhabits all our worst fears of anonymous government spy agencies.
Avoiding spoilers as best I can, the story proceeds with slow building tension as really weird things begin to unravel our hero. David Cole has just bought a house from an extremely odd real estate agent named Alex. (Laura Niles of Twiharder.) It also seems that both Alex and David have a history, about which Mrs. Cole is not overjoyed.
It is here that the director Solomon and actors Khan and Smith shine. As the story unfolds and the terror builds, we see very human responses; Brady slowly unravels on the screen. Sleepless nights bring physical and emotional wear and tear. Star Brady actually begins to look physically haggard and tired; he becomes a grizzled and haggard presence. Smith inhabits the body of a man who is slowly being worn down. The relationship between husband and wife starts to fray, and the effervescent and gorgeous Khan begins to show her genuine fear for her husband. As time passes, even her beauty takes a toll and when normalcy fades, she becomes a pale shadow of herself.
To discuss more would deny you the pleasure of the film, and that would be a disservice to cast and crew. What I can tell you is this, both my wife and I had no idea where the film would go, and we hung on every moment. When the film ends both of us were frustrated there wasn’t more. It was like looking down at your plate after you just consumed the best steak meal of your life and realizing it’s all gone.
I’m not a huge sequel fan, feeling that somethings just need to stand alone, and be magnificent. This is where I’m torn. Chatter fills that role, leaving you both full, yet ready for more. Some questions are better left unanswered and provoke discussion, which Chatter will do without a doubt. Nevertheless, I feel director Solomon owes us more.
Chatter leaves us hanging in regard to a few things, and they aren’t the questions you would guess from this review. Once seeing the film, you will know what there are;
Ancillary questions to be true, but questions I would love to see answered.
My take away from this film, it is second only in terror to my favorite horror film, the recent film Oculus, and that says a lot. I think Serena Khan’s performance and acting chops would hold up to any major star any day, Karen Gillan included. Brady Smith’s performance is Oscar worthy, and I don’t say that frivolously. Smith has a brilliant future ahead of him and is a career to watch. Solomon too is a director to watch as well.
Go see the film when you can, and when available for purchase – do.
John R. White,