Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hideo Nakata to enter the "Chatroom"

by Chris MaGee

When I first read the story posted at Variety Asia Online this morning reporting that Hideo Nakata's next film was going to be titled "Chatroom" and that it would be about teenagers who congregate virtually in a chatroom and "encourage each other's destructive behavior" I shook my head. Another J-Horror film from Nakata about morbid Japanese teenagers and a mysterious website? With Sion Sono's "Suicide Circle", Kenta Fukasaku's "Yo-Yo Girl Cop" and of course Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Kairo (Pulse)" hasn't the evil internet plotline been done to death? As I read further, though, I became encouraged... very encouraged.

The screenplay for "Chatroom" is being written by Irish playwright Enda Walsh based on his own short play about six middle-class teens whose conversations in an online chatroom go from teen comedy to dark social insight. Walsh has previously won the Camera d'Or Award at Cannes in 2001 for his debut film "Disco Pigs" and who also penned the screenplay for Steve McQueen's latest film "Hunger" about the 1981 hunger strike of I.R.A member Bobby Sands. Everyone I spoke to at this year's Toronto International Film Festival had nothing but great things to say about it.

"Chatroom" has been co-financed by Britain's Film4 and will start shooting in the U.K. in the spring. Yes, folks "Chatroom" will be an English language film, but this doesn't really bother me. Why? Because this is the kind of film that I've been dying to see Nakata make ever since I caught his 1999 mystery "Chaos" (read my review for that film here). We all know the moody horror that Nakata can deliver from "Ringu" and "Dark Water", but after seeing "Chaos" I knew that with a decent budget and the right script that he could deliver a truly brilliant film; and it seems like this might be it. Apparently Nakata has already come up with a visually inventive way of adapting the minimal set of the stage play (a line of chairs and TV screens) that is, according to Eve Schoukroun the head of WestEnd Pictures which will be distributing "Chatroom", reminiscent of "'Disturbia and 'Cube'". Interesting...

No official relase date has yet been announced for "Chatroom", but I can't wait to see what Nakata has in store for us. While we wait check out the short interview below with playwright Enda Walsh courtesy of YouTube and the National Theatre London discussing the original stage play. Thanks also to the Inna Keppel Theatre Company for the above image from their production of "Chatroom".

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