DEEP WEB * Canada 2020 Dir: Jessy Dupont. 80 mins
In modern day Montreal, scarred French-Canadian Markus (Daniel Leclerc) lives for extracurricular adrenaline rushes as an escape from his menial day job. Markus’ alienated 21st century existence makes him an easy target for getting lured into the world of “underground gaming” by the mysterious “Christina” who herself has a yen for intense next-level escapism. Amidst more psychedelic offerings and recipes for cannibals, he chances upon Room 333, which quickly gets personal and sinister, presenting authentic (not very convincing) images of dismemberment – and the unnerving realisation that the participants can see through his webcam. The join-the-dots plotting of writer-director Jessy Dupont’s technophobic horror film takes in a suited sleaze planning a live event (“The show must go on!”), a closed theatre and an old European secret society that arrived in the U.S. in the 19th century trumpeting a survival of the fittest ethos. Oddly dated, this sits somewhere between the amusing dark-web episode from CRADLE OF FEAR (which seemed current in 2001) and the HOSTEL movies but creaky line delivery and a ponderous pace make it an endurance test not too dissimilar from that experienced by the protagonists. Leclerc is a dull hero and the trust-no-one pursuit of the truth pays off with nothing more exciting than some tame tortures, a bit of arse whacking and comically unfrightening villains wearing animal masks in the dark.
Review by Steven West