The Dark Side of the Digital Age: Unraveling a Terror-Fueled Nightmare
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 28m
Director(s): Philip Barantini
Writer(s): Barnaby Boulton, James Cummings
Cast: Chaneil Kular, Lauryn Ajufo, Frances Tomelty, Nitin Ganatra, Nila Aalia, Robbie O'Neill, Jay Johnson, Ben Mars, Ollie Teague
Where To Watch: screened at the 2023 Overlook Film Festival
RAVING REVIEW: What would you do if your life was upended overnight? Look into one man's life in a small town that quickly devolves into a nightmare when he's wrongfully accused, thanks to a viral social media attack. This engaging thriller, ACCUSED, takes us on a journey as virtual accusations turn into a horrifying home invasion, forcing Harri, played by Chaneil Kular, to fight for his life while exposing the dangers of baseless allegations and misinformation campaigns.
Directed by Philip Barantini, who, if you follow my reviews, will sound familiar because of his excellent film BOILING POINT, tackles this tale of how easy it is to change one man's life forever. ACCUSED drops us into this world of mayhem, set against a backdrop of contemporary England.
The film’s narrative follows Harri, who lives the “perfect” life, a solid job, a loving girlfriend, and a caring family. However, after a simple online posting, his world almost instantly spirals. What begins as harmless online comments quickly snowballs into a menacing mob mentality, resulting in life-changing consequences. The real-world parallels to this story are no mistake; between general misinformation and a similar genuine case, the film is a harrowing reminder of the damage that can be done with a few strokes of a keyboard.
Chaneil Kular delivers a tour-de-force (and traditionally, I try to avoid this catchy buzzword, but I can’t help it in this situation) performance that will have viewers on the edge of their seats as he fights for his life. The tension-packed script, crafted by Barnaby Boulton and James Cummings, weaves home invasion, survival thriller, and social commentary elements.
ACCUSED offers a chillingly realistic portrayal of a haphazard news cycle that has taken unverified material sourced from social media and turned it into “news.” Additionally, the film tackles the blatant hatred and nationalism in our modern world, unearthing the hidden prejudices that permeate today's society. Despite a few plot narrative issues, ACCUSED remains an exhilarating and emotionally intense thriller.
In the end, the film provides a sobering commentary on the issues that the internet has; At the same time, it's unlikely we will ever stop these “predators,” we should do what it takes to educate ourselves and learn how to spot inappropriate postings. #DoBetter, #BeBetter, and learn how to prevent this real-world problem. With its timely narrative, exceptional acting, and thought-provoking themes, ACCUSED is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates captivating, socially relevant films.
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[photo courtesy of CXYZ FILMS]