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Released: December 17th 2010 UK)

Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Stars: Henry Joost, Yaniv Schulman

Certificate: 15 (UK)

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

In 2007, filmmaker Ariel Schulman sensed an opportunity when his brother Nev, sparked up an online relationship with a girl named Megan. Along with friend Henry he decides to film the developing relationship. As Nev is becomes more and more involved with her family via the internet, the group have no idea the impact the relationship could have on their lives.
Catfish sells itself with a fascinating trailer along with the fact it is a real product of our time. In much the same way as The Social Network sparked an interest in anyone who used Facebook (albeit on a far smaller scale).

The trailer really was brilliant, posing so many questions and giving no answers. The film itself instantly recreates this predicament. As his brother and friend film his life, we see Nev become more and more involved with Megan, her sister Abby and their mother Angela. The relationship originally began when Abby the youngest, asked Nev via the internet to make a painting of one of his photographs. It quickly develops into something much more and while it’s all smooth sailing to start, the film takes a dark turn when Nev begins to find some flaws in the stories of the three.

Catfish takes a little time to get into its stride. It’s essential that we see the back story behind the relationship and watch it blossom. However, it feels too stretched out and the viewer is soon willing for the twist that the trailer promises.

The filmmakers do an impressive job in distracting the viewer from the drawn out beginning. Despite 95% of the film being shot on a handheld camera, there are some extremely clever and impressive shots. The cinematography is some of the best I have seen in any film of a similarly low budget. Combine this with the crazy beginning credits (the Universal logo becoming the Google Earth logo) and the clever scene linking and the films appearance is certainly unique.

The plotline isn’t as deep as it first appears to be. This isn’t taking anything away from the story or its twist. There are several moments throughout the film that give too much away. Every viewer will have a theory for what the explanation is and unfortunately most will probably be correct. That said, it is impossible to stop thinking about the numerous possibilities even if you think you have it sussed.

Catfish becomes its worst enemy, constantly trying to outdo itself with each scene and revelation in the later stages of the film. It also took a leaf out of The Blair Witch Project’s big book of hype, by using all the filmmaker’s real names in the film and not listing some of the key actors, in an attempt to intertwine fiction and reality.

The film must be applauded for what it actually achieves – it is suspenseful, but in a subtle way. It’s a film that knows its target audience and goes at them headfirst. It really is a film for the ‘Facebook generation’, while The Social Network can be viewed by anyone, Catfish is far too specific.

An overall enjoyable film, one to watch certainly, but it lacks the depth to leave the imprint it was so clearly capable of.

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