Directed by: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Not too long ago, I learned something shocking and upsetting about a friend of mine who I'd met on internet. I've belonged to a community of bloggers that review movies for quite a number of years now, and many times found myself talking to members of the group, and occasionally, this said individual.
Around the time the trailer for Catfish came out, I was given the details from another close friend of mine(also from the community) that this person had not only lied about getting into a car accident, but also about a tumor, among other things, all the while evoking sympathy from all of her friends and the people who found her charming and very fun. The fact that they needed to lie to people who had a) already forged close friendships with her and b)just genuinely liked this person, internet or not was both sad and unfortunate. Her friend list on Facebook is dwindling as a result, but she is still actively online.
I thought directly of this individual when I left my screening of Catfish, tying together both the film that I had just seen and the strange fact that the events of the film connected so deeply to my own life and the people who I've met online. Needless to say, it didn't spur a reevaluation of my internet life, nor did it make me second guess the people I've met through the internet, many of whom are wonderful, beautiful people I've had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with over the years. But what stuck out from Catfish is that, for every normal person we meet on the internet, on Facebook, there is always someone who is not who they appear to be, and sometimes, our realization of this simple truth occurs one step too late.
Not to spoil any details, many of which seeped out from the misleading trailer, but what you need to know about Catfish is that it's a documentary that is stranger than fiction, or is the story too perfect to be true? Needless to say, the film could not have been released at a better time, because the film says so much about the internet and its dark undercurrents, and in the end, we are given a disturbing, but also a comical, poignant and even moving film about how easy it is to be duped and how isolating it can be for someone to live entirely online.
A final note, and this is of key importance: No matter how spooky and hype driven the trailer appears to be, do not under any circumstances see it unless you expect to be gravely disappointed. The PR campaign for this film is quite atrocious, considering the actual content of this film, and for some reason, the mystery that lurks within the crevices of the film are now overblown to Saw like proportions. Catfish is truly a film you need to go in and see without knowing too much about the key points of the movie, and even more important, that you do not go in expecting a horrifying and disturbing horror movie. Yes, it's unsettling in parts, and sometimes it's disquieting how frank the film can get, but going in and expecting a horror show just ruins an aspect of the film. While I will say that I enjoyed the film I saw, it was nothing at all like I had expected, which is a disappointment in itself. But alas, the filmmakers clearly wanted their film to be seen, I just believe that their approach to marketing their documentary is going to leave a large number of film goers unhappy.