MRR Review: "The Den"

Photo Credit: IFC Midnight

Rating: R
Length: 81 minutes
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Directed by: Zachary Donohue
Genre: Horror / Thriller

"The Den" is a horror movie that focuses on a killer who is using a web cam to film his murders. When Elizabeth, a graduate student studying social media, sees the footage, she becomes the next target. With an unpredicted filming style and a suspense-filled plot, "The Den" is full of action from start to finish.

Plot Summary

As the movie starts, Elizabeth, a student of social media, starts her research by joining a website called The Den. She logs in and communicates with other users via her web cam. After talking to several people, she decides the website is useless. However, just as she is about to log out, she sees a video that appears to show someone being murdered.

Elizabeth contacts the police, but they suspect someone is playing a prank on her. Believing the video to be real, Elizabeth begins to conduct her own investigation. After receiving several more videos of grisly murders, Elizabeth gets enough information to track down the killer. However, the killer has been using Elizabeth's web cam to watch her every move. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the killer has targeted Elizabeth to star in his next snuff video.


"The Den" features a cast of relatively unknown actors. However, each cast member gives an expert performance. Melanie Papalia stars as Elizabeth, giving the best performance of the film. Papalia creates a character that is uncommon in the horror genre: a multi-dimensional character that the audience is able to relate to. This is especially refreshing for a horror movie, since female leads in this genre tend to lack depth and even much in the way of personality. David Schlachtenhaufen expertly plays Damon, Elizabeth's boyfriend. He manages to add to the movie without taking over all of the action. Together, Papalia and Schlachtenhaufen have great chemistry and make the film more exciting.

This film also has a long list of minor characters, mostly the people Elizabeth talks to via her web cam. They provide an unexpected element of humor, which is needed to balance out the gory murder scenes. The villain of the film does not speak throughout most of the film. However, just the frightening appearance of this character is enough to keep the audience up at night. With a dark cloak and face-obscuring mask, the villain is menacing, with a unique look unlike the easily recognizable villains in so many other horror movies.

Cinematic Style

"The Den" is filmed with a style similar to that of "found footage" films such as "Paranormal Activity" and "The Blair Witch Project." However "The Den" was filmed entirely using video taken with web cams, security cameras and cell phones. Despite this, the footage is very polished for the most part.  There are some moments when the picture becomes shaky during a few action scenes, as if someone is running with the camera. The footage is also made to look just like the audience is watching the film on a computer screen. Although this technique is at times distracting, it makes the events of the film feel more real.

This filming technique is also interesting because the audience is able to see everything at once, while the main character does not. Elizabeth is watching the killer's murders, but for most of the film, she is unaware that the killer is also watching her. With the movie appearing as though it is a computer screen, the audience is able to identify with the main character, and feel as though they too are watching the events of a murder take place on their own computers.

Story and Plot

"The Den" has a very unique plot line tied to a believable situation. In a world where social media rules everything, seeing a murder online is not at all unlikely. The film progresses very quickly, taking place over the course of only a few days. This keeps the momentum moving forward steadily throughout the film, and it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The events in the film are also hard to predict. At several points in the film, the characters make unexpected decisions, which leads the film to be more exciting to watch.

"The Den" is a completely unpredictable film that offers plenty of suspense and thrills. The plot is unique, and the filming technique makes the action on screen seem real. The plot line is also all too believable, which adds an extra layer of horror to the film. For fans of the horror genre, "The Den" is a must-see.