Don’t Click is an outdated, ineptly made film in the running for Worst of the Year honors.
In 1997, Michael Haneke unleashed Funny Games onto an unsuspecting public. A chillingly effective home invasion thriller, the film also served as a hectoring bromide against all those that might enjoy… a chillingly effective home invasion thriller. Regardless of what one might think of the Austrian’s tautological gambit (this critic is firmly in the ‘it stinks’ camp), Haneke’s command of his craft is undeniable. Now, almost 25 years later, comes Don’t Click, an amateurish horror cheapie that attempts to meld the confrontational tone of Funny Games with an aesthetic cobbled together from Cronenberg’s Videodrome, the Saw franchise, and even bits of Hellraiser’s iconic cenobites. Lest that description sound intriguing, be advised that Don’t Click is a boring, unpleasant, and intellectually bankrupt exercise in literal torture porn that only masquerades as an indictment of its (hopefully purely hypothetical) audience.
It’s a simple, if bizarre, set up: introverted college dude Zane (Mark Koufos) frequents a snuff-torture website called “Beat a Bitch Dot Com,” until he is mysteriously teleported through his laptop to a doorless and windowless room. His roommate Josh (Valter Skarsgård) stumbles across the open computer and he too is zapped to the same room. There, a deranged, mute man with a rictus grin and face wounds forces Josh to torture Zane, with each encounter involving the removal of some piece of Zane’s anatomy. These scenes are interspersed with flashbacks of Josh and Zane moving in together and having tedious, awkwardly staged conversations, as well as more scenes of the offensive website and various women being beaten and murdered. It would be more upsetting if it wasn’t all just so tedious and banal. Don’t Click flits between its two sets (by the way the film literally features only two sets, the boy’s apartment and the torture chamber) before eventually introducing a vengeful ghost who explains what’s going on: Zane is being punished for visiting the website, while Josh is culpable for ignoring the warning signs. There’s a germ of an idea here — that men let other men off the hook for bad or even outright disturbing behavior. But this crummy movie is hardly an appropriate vehicle for such commentary. Director G-hey Kim and co-writer Courtney Ellum have crafted a cautionary tale about the internet that would have been dated even a couple decades ago, with a heavy dollop of think-about-the-children moral panic. Worst of all, Kim is an utterly inept filmmaker: the camera always seems to be in the wrong place and there are long sequences shot at different frame rates that are headache-inducing. Don’t Click isn’t even a so-bad-it’s-good situation; this has zero chance of becoming any kind of cult success. It’s always hard to resist low-hanging fruit, so let’s not: the filmmakers teed up the right response to their misbegotten pile of shit. Don’t watch.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | December 2020 — Part 1.