Don’t Talk to Strangers in “The Den”

The internet can be a scary place...

The Den (2013)
Director: Zachary Donohue
Writer: Zachary DonohueLauren Thompson
Starring: Melanie PapaliaDavid SchlachtenhaufenMatt Riedy


The Den is a 2013 horror film about a young woman name Elizabeth who wants to study the behavior of chat site users on a program called “The Den” (sort of a cross between Skype and Chatroulette). Her study turns into a nightmare after she witnesses an execution-style murder when talking to a random stranger… and it looks like they are coming for her next!

This movie is perfect for the era. The internet is such a huge part of most people’s lives. But there are some parts of it you just don’t go. If you do choose to venture into the underbelly, there are rules and etiquette to follow. What’s scariest about this movie is just how feasible it is. Everything in this film could happen in real life. There are people who are this good at hacking that they can do these kinds of things and they are not always nice people.

I used to travel in some darker areas of the internet. There are places that I have been on the internet that I will not even name because if I mentioned them the people who frequent them might not like it. These things are real and this movie captures the real-life horror perfectly. I was taught about these things by a Swedish hacktivist. I asked him one day to prove how good he was at hacking. He then hijacked my laptop, identified what shirt I was wearing by turning on the webcam, opened a web browser, pulled up gay porn, disabled my mouse, and went to make himself a sandwich. Good times.

The movie itself is found footage, most of the scenes “screen caps” of Elizabeth’s Den vidchats. The acting is solid. Actually, Melanie Papalia, the actress who plays Elizabeth, is quite talented. She has a very emotive face that lent well to the conveyance of her feelings and reactions.

There’s not a lot of gore in this. But what gore there is is done very well. I always enjoy trying to see behind the curtain of the magician. That’s what I view prac fx as: a magic trick. I always try to spot the hoses or the wires. In this film, the magician was a master of his craft. All of the effects were flawless.

In a world where anyone can talk to anyone, where we are all connected by this web of data streams called the internet, this movie is exemplary for its relevancy. Because we can talk to anyone we want now. The world shrank significantly. But that also means the danger just got closer. It may be thousands of miles away, but, at the same time, it is also sitting on the desk in the living room, waiting to be powered on.

That’s it for the review folks. Those who wish to can go to another page or whatever. But I figured with the content of this film and my own experiences, this may be a good opportunity to share some tips to stay safe online.

1. NEVER open any link or accept a file from someone you don’t know.

2. If it seems fishy, trust your gut.

3. Facebook, Youtube, Google, etc, can’t be “hacked” unless you chose a really stupid password. The only way to do it is called a “brute force attack” which uses a program that tries every single combination of characters. If you have a decent password, the program would have to run for close to a year to find the right combination.

4. If your account does get hijacked, it is usually because of a program you installed that is feeding someone your data. A person can also take control of your accounts or even your computer with either a keylogger or a RAT (Remote Access Terminal). A keylogger records your keystrokes and sends them to a person so they can steal passwords, even credit card numbers. A RAT allows a person to do what my friend did: completely hijack a person’s computer.

5. Apple computers can get viruses. In fact, 1 in 8 Apple computers already has one. It’s just a different operating system, so a virus for it has to be coded specifically for it. Back when Apple was smaller, no virus maker bothered, is all. PC was a much bigger pond to cast a net into. Now that Apple has become more popular, hackers are making viruses just for it. Android also has viruses.

6. The best anti virus program is AVG. Do not have more than one anti virus program installed on your computer at once as they may conflict and lead to neither of them working. Norton is a joke. there is a reason it comes pre installed on most computers: if they didn’t give it away, no one would want it. I can build keyloggers and RATS. Me and my friends used to prank each other with them. The only anti virus program that I have never been able to encrypt a virus to get through undetected is AVG. Anything else is your ass. AVG has a free version whose anti virus features are fully functional.

7. Perform routine maintenance. Back up your files, scan for viruses, and create restore points.


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