Action / Documentary

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 70%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 36984


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May 28, 2016 at 09:53 AM



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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jgregg42 6 / 10

"Catfish," I Can't Tell You What It Is

"A shattering conclusion." "The best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never directed." These are a couple of the tag line quotes that appear in the trailer for "Catfish." The movie poster tells us "Don't let anyone tell you what it is." Watch the trailer and it seems like this is going to be the next "The Blair Witch Project." Really, go to You Tube and watch it right now. I'll wait … What do you think? It looks suspenseful and frightening, doesn't it? Well, it ain't, sister. The marketing department for "Hit the Ground Running Films" did a number on twisting this two-minute trailer around to make it seem like you are going to see the next big documentary thriller. What you will see is a study in social media and the human psyche that is using modern technology (such as Google Earth, Facebook and texting) to bring the story together.

"Catfish" is a documentary by three aspiring filmmakers. The story begins by introducing us to Nev Schulman who is the main focus of the story that his brother, Rel Schulman, and friend, Henry Joost, are producing and directing. Nev is a young, charismatic photographer in New York City. One of his photos he had published made it all the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is where an 8-year-old girl named Abby sees the photograph; she draws a painting of it and sends it to Nev. As having been the father of an 8 year old myself, I could tell something was rotten in Denmark from the quality of work this child was producing.

Nev and Abby start a pen pal relationship via Facebook. Nev befriends Abby's entire family on Facebook and even talks to her mom on the phone. He becomes close to Abby's older, attractive sister, Megan, and starts having feelings for her over the phone. Hey, it happens. There is an accurate scene where a nervous Nev calls Megan for the first time. Within today's culture of meeting people online, it is exactly how these phone calls play out. People meet online and text and e-mail back and forth until the day comes where they exchange phone numbers and there is an awkward human connection. It's a norm for this generation and they will easily relate to Nev's nervous behavior while tripping over his words when he is speaking to Megan.

Nev and the filmmakers start putting the clues together from Megan's e-mails. Through some detective work on You Tube and other various sites they are slowly realizing that someone is playing them like a squeezebox. They get the bright idea to drive to Michigan to confront Abby, Megan and the rest of the family.

This is where the movie trailer leaves us hanging. After a long trip, the trio of filmmakers arrives at the barn by Megan's house in the middle of the night. They peer inside the barn...and... and…sorry I can't tell you what it is. I have an agreement with a movie poster. But, what I can tell you is that it's not some 20 year old standing in the corner of a basement in an abandoned house in the woods. That has been done before. It's not even startling, not in the sense that I would expect it to be.

The rest of the film spends its time explaining how Nev and his mystery solving team react to their findings. If you pay attention (and, it's pretty easy to do) you can pick up on where the movie was going.

There was no big "wow" moment nor was there "a shattering conclusion." It was simply people explaining their actions on why they did what they did. At the end the audience is rewarded because the film's title is explained. Trust me — the end does not justify the means.

Should you see this movie? Only if you want a movie that has a lot of build up and very little climax. It would fare better in a small, independent movie theater rather than on Megaplex screens. In fact, I could see a professor using this as a teaching tool in a Psychology 101 or Sociology 101 classroom. It made some valid points about how people can manipulate one another on the Internet. The point is well taken, because I certainly felt manipulated by the movie trailer.

Reviewed by wilderblue2005 7 / 10

Taking something most of us have done a bit further

I remember in the very late 90's discovering the world of Yahoo chatrooms ... talking this way and that way with total strangers, sometimes being myself, sometimes lying through my teeth. Creating new usernames as a female to talk to lesbians every once in a while seemed a fun thing to do as an 18yr old lad, never succeeding to convince any to talk dirty to me. HA! The things we do.

And that is where this movie comes in. Meeting people online ... checking out their profiles and thinking ... "yeah ... not bad", talking more online and getting to know them and developing feelings for this entity, god knows where on the planet, typing their words to you and maybe, just maybe feeling the same way.

And how much of it is true ... ?

This was an intriguing watch, playful and suspenseful and by the end, full of heart that is a far cry from the gripping thriller documentary style movie portrayed in the trailer (which I saw after at one reviewers request) but none the less, I enjoyed the movie for piecing together something many of us have done ... but just not to these extremes. Give it a go ... =]

Reviewed by chrismsawin 6 / 10

An interesting character study

If somebody made me choose a favorite film genre, psychological thriller would quite possibly be my answer. Films that include incredible twist endings (Oldboy) or have elaborate story lines that make you think (Inception) are definitely some of the best times to be had when it comes to an entertaining movie experience. Catfish was marketed as a film that was not only a thriller, but also contained "a shattering conclusion" that was compared to Alfred Hitchcock. In the end, it didn't really have either of those things.

Catfish had this vibe the entire film like it was leading towards something dark near its conclusion. As Nev makes his way to Michigan, you get more and more anxious as he nears his destination. Even the music gets really unsettling. Is Megan's family going to be a bunch of chainsaw wielding cannibals or have Angela and Vince been keeping a kidnapped girl named Megan chained in their basement for weeks to lead young, single guys out there for them to torture as some sort of twisted way to get off? No, it's nothing like that. Catfish never really became thrilling or even came near diving into dark territory.

What Catfish winds up being is an interesting character study presented as a documentary. The film's heart resides in who Megan really is and how the entire experience affects Nev. Once the pieces of the puzzle are put together and everything falls into place, Catfish turns out to be a very raw, emotional, and heartfelt film. What's intriguing is the film revolves around Facebook and with The Social Network hitting theaters in about two weeks, it seems like a bit of a bold move.

What is arguably the best scene in the film is when it's actually explained why Catfish was chosen as the title in the final minutes. It is a pretty incredible explanation and fits the film perfectly.

Catfish isn't necessarily a bad film, in fact, it's pretty powerful once it really gets going. It probably isn't what you're expecting though. While Catfish is laugh out loud at certain points in the film, at its core, it's a documented love story that mostly resides on the internet. Maybe it just comes from personal experience, the way the film was presented, or the on-screen presence of the characters in the film, but Catfish felt genuine which isn't something that can be said about many films that have come out this year.

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