Produced by Bryan Singer (yes, that one), and directed by the 2005 Amityville Horror/countless adverts helmer Andrew Douglas, uwantme2killhim is a solid, well constructed story about teenage isolation. Its mysteries play out well, resolved quickly and satisfactorily, though it never quite realises its potential. Based on a true story, its focus on one of its subjects is both a boon and a problem for the movie.
Mark (Jamie Blackley), is a popular 16 year old boy. We see a little of his life before the start of the main narrative, but not enough to really get to know him. uwantme2killhim came with a free pamphlet detailing the cast and crew, and their thoughts on the film, and here the idea of Mark peaking too soon is brought up. He’s already had meaningless sex with the most attractive girl in school (Amy Wren’s Zoe, a character who only seems to define herself in terms of sex appeal), and is merely the best footballer in his year. Considering their intent, it might have done to devote more time to this introduction. The film doesn’t convey the possibility of decline here, presenting Mark as a fairly typical self-obsessed, cocksure teenage boy with multiple partners.
It turns out that he is particularly obsessed with one of them. Mark regularly uses an MSN Messenger-like program – it’s set in 2003 – to talk to Rachel (Jaime Winstone), a woman with a violent gangster boyfriend who types dirty and watches Mark’s face in a webcam as he masturbates (Microsoft having stupidly forgotten to include cum face in their emoticon list, among their other crimes). Rachel requests that Mark looks after her brother John (Toby Regbo, Jim Hawkins in Sky’s recent Treasure Island adaptation), who is being bullied at school. The two form a bond in the process.
Telling the story from Mark’s point of view is a simple but effective way of building up the ensuing mysteries. The plot strands interweave superbly, most unexplained questions are answered (with the exception of how Mark started talking to Rachel in the first place), though the asking of these questions ends up taking precedence over the film’s portrayal of teenage obsession.
Largely underplaying things, Regbo and Blackley work well together, capturing an awkwardness of two different boys with the same problem. Mark’s parents (un-named) are distant in their own house, and John is full of an unnerving keenness, and well-suppressed rage. Mark’s anger manifests itself frequently as he becomes disconnected from everything but Rachel, a woman he’s only ever talked to online. Bar the occasionally awkward bit of dialogue or delivery, the depiction of teenage angst and loneliness is an accurate one initially, though the more extreme moments seem oddly muted.
Less successful is the method of conveying internet messenging services. These sequences feel odd, and the solution the film-makers have come up with to avoid endless typing shots makes the contrast between the spoken word and textspeak very jarring indeed.
There are some sequences that detract from the attempts at grounding the film in reality. Rachel’s boyfriend, a Scottish gangster, shouts his lines like he’s in The IT Crowd. The suburban mundanity of grey and brown houses, an attempt to portray lower-middle class existence in all its drabness, clashes with little moments such as bunking off school to go to to Laserquest, which is inexplicably full of twenty-something men (anyone who’s gone to Laserquest in the middle of the day knows it’s going to be two teenagers fighting some ten-year old kids and their Mum). As a result of establishing foundations in the real world, the paranoia-fuelled final act lacks contrast, the change that comes about in Mark feels too easy. Even in his circumstances, it feels strange that he wouldn’t question the mystery that is a member of MI5 (Life on Mars‘ Liz White) contacting him via MSN Messenger and speaking entirely in caps lock.
The upshot of all this is that uwantme2killhim manages to pull the rug from under you, hiding a number of clues in plain sight while obscuring them with more obvious question begging. It’s nicely done, although due to the focus on Mark it does lack a significant resolution for the other characters.