Saturday, February 04, 2012

Indie New Jersey film says: watch out online, especially in those chat rooms ("iMurders")

A 2008 independent film, shot mostly in northern New Jersey apartments, certainly anticipates the concerns over privacy on social networks. The work is “iMurders”, by Robbie Bryan.  The tagline is “No one is safe in cyberspace”.  Maybe not, but most of us aren’t as connected to tragedy (through "friends of friends") as these characters are – or maybe we can be and “they just don’t tell us”.  

In the opening prequel, we see a hit in a rural home, by a jilted partner on an amorous couple upstairs.  Then for the rest of the film, the participants of a “FaceSpace”  (That is "Facebook + Myspace - MyBook") chat room start getting dispatched rather gorily in their own homes, while the police gradually move in.  A 40-something man tells a new tenant in a building about an ambulance-chasing lawyer, and a landlady looks all too ignorant of modern technology to be believed.  A seedy community college professor looks suspicious, but that may be a diversion.  A couple of lesbians and gay men are in the chat room, but sexual orientation in this movie is all too pliable – although it does draw the worst instincts out of the killer.  In this film, a couple cats know but can’t do much about it.

The characters in this film are being silly online, as a lot of yuppies often are.  So, yes, they draw attention to themselves in unnecessarily dangerous ways. Does the film say much that matters in more recent spates about tracking and Facebook and now Google privacy?  Probably not.  Nobody in the movie gets tracked down just because of surfing habits, or even for “political” speech. And I'm getting the impression that "chat" for its own sake, conducted from home, isn't so popular now since people have gone mobile.  One imagines a film where people are targets in public in broad daylight because of their smart phones. 

The film seems to be shot in Dogme style, with a lot of handheld work, and a lot of cutoffs and back-and-forth time transitions in critical scenes toward the end. 

The DVD has a twenty-minute short that interviews the actors and talks a lot about the advantages of independent film.  This one played at the Hoboken Film Festival and is distributed by Anchor Bay.
There’s an alternate ending, which I prefer.  I guess I don’t like landladies.

The site for the film is here.  Curiously, it’s advanced on Myspace but not Facbook.   The film stars Tony Todd, Lori Romano, Gabrielle Anwar, Willam Forsythe (as the professor), Billy Dee Williams, and Frank Grillo.

The trailer is here.
YouTube and Starz offer a “legal” rental online for $1.99.  

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