even the most tenacious cyber-stalker has to go to work or buy groceries
sometime. Somehow, the predator tapping into Emma’s life always seems to be
watching. That monomaniacal focus makes it is even more unsettling to watch her
through his eyes throughout Branden Kramer’s Ratter, which screens during the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival.
we cannot see the man who has maliciously hacked Emma’s computer and assorted
internet accessing devices, but he did quite a job on her. Through their
web-cameras, he (and we) see just about all of her presumptively private
moments. She moved to New York following a rough patch back home, but in
retrospect, that seems to be a mistake. When she finally realizes she has been
hacked, she immediately suspects her still bitter ex, but he seems an unlikely
culprit from our perspective. Unfortunately, the cyber harassment dangerously
escalates when the unknown perpetrator starts sabotaging her relationships.
Ratter is the sort of
film that will scare viewers into moving a good portion of their lives
off-line. Like Bobby Boermans’ more conventionally thrillerish App, it makes retro flip phones look
like an idea whose time has come again (they make and receive calls, period).
Kramer takes some time to set the scene and flesh out Emma’s backstory, but he
steadily builds the claustrophobic tension until you want to scream at her: “get
out of the apartment.”
its online video look and the menacing vibe, Ratter feels somewhat akin to the original V/H/S anthology film. The most notable dissimilarity—and it’s a significant
one—is Ratter’s lack of fun.
a way, Ashley Benson (of Spring Breakers and
Pretty Little Liars) is too realistic
as Emma. We see her make dozens of mistakes and in just about every
unflattering moment imaginable, yet she always seems like a generally decent,
somewhat naïve kid. She also develops some surprisingly down-to-earth
flirtatious chemistry with her prospective new boyfriend Michael, also nicely
played by Matt McGorry. They certainly do not deserve what befalls them.
Kramer exercises commanding control of the film’s
twisted mood and psychopathic concentration, while Benson withstands the relentlessly
intimate focus remarkably well. However, even mildly sensitive viewers might be
disturbed at where it ends up. Recommended for luddites looking for a bitterly
black thriller, Ratter screens again
this Wednesday (1/28) at Treasure Mountain Inn, as part of this year’s
Labels: Cyber Thrillers, Slamdance '15, Stalker movies