Bottom Line: No need for the word “documentary” when it comes to this much suspense.
Directed by: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Other Credits: Melody C. Roscher, Yaniv Schulman
Suspenseful, controversial Ariel Schulman-Henry Joost film is a documentation of the online persona former’s younger brother, Yaniv “Nev” Schulman. Nev, a photographer, has been followed by an 8-year-old artist for a while, receiving paintings via snail mail for over three months. He decides to look her up and “friend” every member of her family on Facebook. It isn’t long before Nev discovers the child’s adult half sister, Megan, who he thinks is very pretty. Her relationship status changes to “single” immediately after they meet, and the two, though not knowing each other at all in person, form a relationship.
Honestly, I would like to picture CATFISH as a staged film, but with the reality and believable personalities, it would be hard to declare it to be officially staged. The aspect that makes CATFISH so intoxicating, documentary or staged, is that it is in no way a sappy romance. Though the plot centers on a Facebook relationship, there is much more suspense than romance, as most of the film documents the tension of wanting to know who Megan is, as the relationship between the two of them elevates more strongly. Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, who united once more last year as co-directors for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3, use the handheld camera tactic most of the time rather than a steady camera, creating a wonderful, heart-racing effect.
I don’t know if I should really be describing CATFISH as a cautionary tale, but it wouldn’t be speaking the truth if I didn’t say that it makes me loathe Facebook twenty times more than I already do. The relationship formed between Nev and Megan is so realistic and shocking that it begs the viewer to take social networking more carefully. It could have easily been more graphic (and, taking the non-documentary side, if it was real, it probably would have been), but explicit material would have automatically deducted the level of suspense to which the film was amounted. If Schulman and Joost continue to direct films like this, they may just become the new Coen Brothers.