REVIEW: Don’t Click (FrightFest 2020)
Adapted from the short film of the same name, Don’t Click attempts to critique the dark web and the nasty world of underground porn. Unfortunately this disturbingly self congratulatory film ends up being no better than the practices it tries to criticise. The most frustrating thing about this film is that it’s a great idea, that is horrendously executed. The dark web should, rightly, be criticised for its evilness and the sheer amount of damage it inflicts on innocent people. But we all know what happens there, we don’t need it spelled out for us.
It starts off fairly promising, with Zane (Mark Koufos) home alone signing into horrible torture porn website BeatASlut.net (gross right?) where he and others are goading on a masked man to inflict horrible pain on a woman who’s tied up by her wrists. I must admit, it is a decent start and I liked the interface designed to look like a livestream with sick messages coming in asking the man to do things to the woman. You know the ones. But in the case of this film, I firmly believe it should have taken a ‘less is more’ approach to its torture of the women.
My reason for this is simple, Zane is soon transported to a strange room where he’s punished for watching and actively enjoying torture porn. That’s great and all, but why did they cut away from the pain inflicted on him, yet force us to watch the horrible pornographic scenes involving women in long, graphic detail? It doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s kind of satisfying seeing Zane get his comeuppance, but it’s not satisfying enough, and films like I Spit On Your Grave do a far better job of how you actually shoot an apparent revenge film. Here, it’s uncomfortable viewing for all the wrong reasons.
Zane lives with his roommate Josh (Valter Skarsgård), who comes home one night to find his friend gone and the aforementioned disturbing site open. Josh ends up in the same weird dungeon/void thing alongside his friend, and then the film starts going off on a tangent. For the first 10 or so minutes it seems like some momentum might be building, but then it descends into a weird non-linear narrative that doesn’t explain much, apart from the fact that Zane is clearly addicted to torture porn. Any excuse to throw in more disturbing scenes, right?
It becomes quite obvious that this film was adapted from a short, as it doesn’t have enough substance to justify being feature length. There’s a lot of repetition, scenes that seem to drag on for no reason, and plenty of wooden acting to go with it. Zane and Josh have no chemistry whatsoever, they’re meant to be roommates yet seem bored the entire time, and it has possibly the worst ‘fake playing a video game’ scene I’ve ever witnessed. And trust me, there’s plenty of those out there.
I actually hate the fact I didn’t like this film, as so much of it seemed promising and I was hoping for a cutting, smart critique of the dark web. This was actually written and directed by women, so it really is a shame it wasn’t treated with more care. Let me be clear that I am not against torture porn in film and I am aware I was attending a horror film festival, but sometimes it’s difficult to justify the sheer nastiness seemingly for the sake of it. I wish I hadn’t had to witness some of the atrocities in Don’t Click.
Beyond this, the technical aspects of the film aren’t great either. The soundtrack is monotonous and scenes in the dungeon/void are in a very poor quality frame rate, which makes for difficult viewing. It’s not a well put together film by any means, and whilst the gory special effects are okay, it doesn’t make up for other aspects of the poor filmmaking.
It’s probably best to take the advice of the film’s title and Don’t Click on the film if you ever see it. There’s much better offerings out there.