14 Apr 2014

Review - 'The Den' Has Restored Fear into the Slasher and Found-Footage Sub-Genre

Director: Zachary Donohue
Writer: Zachary Donohue
Stars: Melanie Papalia, David Schlachtenhaufen, Matt Riedy
Running Time: 81 mins
Sub-Genre: Found Footage
Release: 14th March 2014

A young woman studying the habits of webcam chat users from the apparent safety of her apartment witnesses a brutal murder online and is quickly immersed in a nightmare in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.

We all know the found footage genre has lost its freshness from over the years, and that's mainly due to the fact it has had some serious overkill. However, the likes of V/H/S has clearly established that their is still a pulse behind the shaky cam, even if the Paranormal Activity Franchise proves otherwise. The Den is what it is; a truly scary film, and no slasher of that type has been able to amount to that in a long time. This isn't about the supernatural, this isn't about demons, this is about men in masks forcing us to watch as they brutally hunt and kill those fond of a webcam; and it is deeply chilling.

This isn't a sub-genre I would approach kindly, in fact there isn't a sub-genre I dislike as much as this (aside from horror romance which doesn't exist in my eyes), so it was obvious that I was going to head into a low-cut film like this with my preconceptions. The Den thankfully took me completely by surprise. It was shocking and taut, regardless of being tedious and a little frustration to watch; and those criticisms are to be expected with this type of film, I mean how many more things can you do with it right? But it was still fresh enough to differentiate itself from the rest, making for an alarmingly good experience.

The cast do a strong job in developing the one-dimensional characters, and for a film so off-the-radar the acting was solid as was the direction, preventing that awful stereotype of cheesy actors that is stapled to the horror genre. Melanie Papalia particularly is strong in her role as she presents as she presents a convincing and heroic final girl who's survival we actually root for. Let's just say that she knew how to scream and looked good doing it.

The Den knows how to scare the audience and it does it well. Would it be accurate to call it the most underrated horror of the year so far? Most definitely. Would be it accurate to call it the scariest film of the year so far? I would have to give it that one. Make this you're next, as The Den is well worth the viewing.

Tedium comes with this type of horror, but through all the recycled material and familiarity The Den provides, it actually proves to be very scary; and why else do we watch horror's like this right?

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