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Don’t Hang Up

Posted on July 5, 2017

Don’t Hang Up: Teens and Social Media

Gwen

2016  |  R  |  83 min  |  Directors: Damien Macé & Alexis Wajsbrot  |  Writer: Joe Johnson  |  UK

Grade:  A-

Don’t Hang Up scares some sense into social media obsessed teens.

Synopsis: A few millennial pranksters take crank calls to the next level while trying to achieve internet stardom. They soon find out the hard way that there are very real life repercussions for their actions.

Don’t Hang Up is a really good film. I was super excited to see a horror film that is rated “R” as that in itself has become as likely as finding a unicorn.  This film evokes many of the better elements of Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) as well as I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) combining pranks, poor choices, and a few selfish kids. Remember the opening scene in Scream when Casey Becker gets a prank phone call? Well, imagine that on crack and you have Don’t Hang Up.

Most thrilling about this film is the commentary on social media use. Don’t Hang Up tells a tale of a handful of teenage boys who video themselves making pretty vicious prank phone calls for the purpose of getting “likes” online.  When bad things happen, we could superficially assume that their horror-trope indiscretion was exploiting others for personal gain.  However, this film is actually much more complex than that. Social media and technology greatly enhance the cat-and-mouse component within this film.

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Posted on July 2, 2017

Don’t Hang Up

Dawn

2016                R         UK                Damien Macé and Alexis Wajsbrot                83 mins.

It says much about Don’t Hang Up that I’m irresistibly drawn to say of it: “It’s Saw meets Unfriended—with a bit of The Strangers thrown in.” What this says about Don’t Hang Up is that it consistently echoes other horror films. Some critics will no doubt say that this makes the film derivative, formulaic. Don’t Hang Up is actually better than that, and the way in which it evokes other films is actually a plus for me. It’s hard (some would say impossible) to create something absolutely new: everything builds on what’s gone before. Don’t Hang Up is creative—original—in the way that creativity and originality most often exist in the world: it puts things that have come before together in some new ways. And that makes it a film worth watching in my book.

The film begins with a group of high school boys making prank calls, which they stream online for the thrill of getting thousands of views. The film’s opening montage cleverly shows how the exuberance and excitement of the prankers is predicated on the suffering of their victims, to which they give not one iota of consideration. Here’s where Unfriended (Levan Gabriadze, 2014) comes in, which is similarly about what happens when teenagers put a video depicting someone else’s misery online. The opening scenarios of both films dramatize the callousness of young people, or the callousness produced by lives lived in large part in the abstracted world of social media . . .or both.

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