The upshot of what some teens would call a relationship in a world of cyberslaves sees rachel_angel83 (Jaime Winstone) and Mark87 (Jamie Blackely) carry an online relationship to devastating ends. But don’t try to figure out what will happen and who might be to blame because this isn’t that film. Beginning as chat, one assumes, our online Pyramus and Thisbe escalate to sex talk in an interesting spin on the see-you-see-me technology that has only Rachel seeing Michael. Thus, anonymity abounds in this procedural backlash account purportedly based on a true story from the UK.
While Rachel will not let Mark see her, as she’s in the witness protection program living in a secret location, they have in common one palpable link: Rachel’s brother, John (Toby Regbo). Aside from the powerful bonds of mateship, which, for those with experience in the UK and Commonwealth of Australia, is far more than a common understanding of ‘best friends’—an estate with no correlative point in any other society except, perhaps, ‘partners’ in the Old West, Pan-American vernacular—John and Mark share an abiding concern: a fear for the safety of Rachel. For John, his protective instinct stems from the fact that his long-lost sister is all he has. For Mark, he’s simply in love with her. Beyond these trenchant ties, the young men have stepdads, both seek “a mad life,” and both get what they want, which is much more than one of the pair ever bargained for.
Rachel’s live-in boyfriend, a South London petty villain, is a misogynistic S.O.B. who delights in beating and otherwise abusing her. Discovering her online relationship, Kevin McNeal (Mingus Johnston), our bet noir, threatens to kill Mark and Rachel if he ever finds the two communicating again. Now, having broad-brushed the set up, all one has to do is determine if all of it is true, some of it is true, or none of it is true. Uwantme2killhim? delivers the curious and the absurd in equal measure with angst, loneliness, isolation and longing: longing for friendship, longing for status, longing for love.
An entirely compelling job of filmmaking, Uwantme2killhim? manipulates the viewer every bit as much as our likeable protagonist, Mark. Unless someone reveals the punch-line ending—and it does indeed pack a wallop—viewers will likely never see what’s coming, which puts them snugly in Mark’s shoes. Marketed as “based on a true story” there is nothing of the documentary about this film, and nothing glossy or hip. And that’s good news, too, for an intimate film as closed in and confined in scope as the lives of the characters it follows.
Soft, moody lighting by Ben, Eddie, and Joe Knight, lends a blanket of deceptive calm to lives lived almost exclusively in early morning, evening, and night, as set against the odd overcast day: the sun almost never shines in Mark and John’s world. Additionally, a majority use of medium shots by director, Andrew Douglas, and cinematographer, Tim Wooster, fosters a subjective atmosphere that underpins a film equally as subjective in its narrative. Careful editing by Michael Elliot never intrudes or otherwise calls attention to itself. In fact, in a deliberate bid to keep the pacing steady, the lack of sensation through a lot of needless and gimmicky fast cutting only adds to the power of the “all will be revealed” conclusion guaranteed to illicit thought provoking conversation, introspection, and debate: ‘What kind of a society are we creating, and what is all this technology doing to the people who live in it?’
Overall, the bilinear plot is handled to superb effect, absent as it is of lurches, confounding leaps in temporality and continuity. Uwantme2killhim? is guaranteed to haunt the viewer for the questions it raises, and the questions that find answers in closure as disquieting as the many resulting, provocative mysteries of the human psyche that can never be solved.
Actor, writer and director, Robert Kenneth Dator worked in feature film and television in the United States and Australia before teaching and attending Graduate School. Rob and family live in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he is hard at work on several projects including the academic film website Cinepsyche.
Uwantme2killhim? is currently streaming on Netflix, and is in limited release in the United States.