Originally written for The National Student:
uwantme2killhim? is a film that explores the online relationships of a teenage boy and shows just how easy it is to get obsessed with the women of the World Wide Web.
We meet Mark (Jamie Blackley), the popular kid with aspirations way beyond his talent. He has an online girfriend Rachel (Jaime Winston) who asks him to look after her little brother who is being bullied at school, John (Tony Regbo). Despite John being the weird kid, the two boys become close and their friendship leads them down a dark and twisted path full of curveballs and drama you wouldn’t expect from, let’s face it, such a terribly titled film.
The tale unravels through Mark’s point of view. We watch him talking to various internet characters and are able to see them exactly as he would, imagining them from his computer chair. It is important to remember that the film is based in the early 2000s before the widespread use of webcams, allowing us to understand why Mark has to imagine and why he doesn’t simply demand the use of Skype. It is the best angle the film could have taken and gives the story life, yet considering internet conversations are the main motivation for the film they are surprisingly underused, making it difficult for us to view Mark as being truly gripped by an online obsession.
The film, through a shocking twist, does successfully sober the audience into thinking about the murkier effect of the internet and how easily the internet can take control of people’s lives. A lot of teenage and adult life is dependent on social media and you are made to realise just how scary this is, especially when you remember the film is based on true events.
Both Toby Regbo (John) and Jamie Blackley (Mark) deliver outstanding performances and Blackley is without a doubt a superstar in the making, stealing focus in every scene. The two have brilliant on-screen chemistry and their shared scenes are the best in the film.
The glaring problem with uwantme2killhim? is how hard it is for the audience to buy the relationship between Mark and Janet Dobinson, an MI5 agent who pops up on Mark’s MSN-like chat (played by Liz White). This is not due to the absurdity of the situation, rather the way in which it is approached. Dobinson isn’t given enough screen time to establish her character and neither is the formation of the relationship between the two, both of which are necessary for the audience to believe Mark wouldn’t question her authority as an MI5 agent. Mark believed it in real life, yet the portrayal of their conversations doesn’t give us much inkling as to why.
There is also less of John than one would like to see and perhaps a deeper examination into his character and home life would improve the film as we barely get to know him or the reasoning behind some of his bizarre behaviour. The film’s pace is not perfect either, slowing down significantly in the middle and speeding up again right at the end. Ideally they would have swapped speed in order to create a meatier and more satisfying ending.
The superb acting and interesting subject matter are enough to carry the film’s faults nonetheless, and its humorous one-liners are a sign of decent writing. It is also able to represent the working class of English adolescents in a mostly convincing way, making the film an overall diamond in the rough and a breath of fresh air from over-hollywoodized dramatisations of real life events.
In cinemas 6th September 2013