Chances are you haven’t even heard of this film. But if you have, you’ve probably heard it described with some of the following adjectives: powerful, startling, suspenseful, thrilling, and shocking. But that’s it. The marketing campaign is simply ‘We don’t want to tell you anything about it. Just see it.’ Well, the marketing campaign is frankly the best thing about the movie. I’d like to say that I find it extremely refreshing that the studio opted to not ruin the entire movie in the trailer and let us just experience it as a complete surprise for once. But the reality is, it’s marketed this way because there’s just no way to build a normal trailer around this film. There’s no exciting footage, no explosions, no action scenes, and no snappy one-liners by Bruce Willis. And that’s perfectly ok with me. But the problem is, the movie just isn’t powerful, startling, suspenseful, thrilling, or shocking. It’s just kind of interesting, but nowhere close to as good as the hype.
Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the surprise factor by laying out the plot and ruining the ‘twists’. But I’ll give you a VERY general idea of what it is. The film is a documentary of a photographer named Nev Schulman filmed by his brother Ariel and their friend. Ariel claims he thought he’d create a short film about Nev, but didn’t really know what it was going to be about. So he just filmed everything he did. And fortunately for him, Nev just happens to interact with a group of people over the internet that make this doc film-worthy. Happy accident?
There is apparently a lot of debate whether the film is real or not. Well, I saw the filmmakers in person for a Q&A and based on seeing the film and hearing the Q&A I do believe it to be real. (Of course I also thought the Joaquin Phoenix doc ‘I’m Still Here’ was real, so what the hell do I know? For more on that, check out my Toronto Film Festival post.) Frankly, I don’t really care if it’s real or not. It’s believable enough. But as for the hype, am I missing something??? Catfish? … I would have called it Blowfish. (Ok that was cheap.)