"The following teleplay is based upon true events" – So says the caption that begins director Jet Eller’s new horror thriller Never Feed the Troll and while I’m not entirely sure how close to reality this film may be, one can certainly imagine how such a story could feasibly take place within reality. In the wake of internet groups such as "Anonymous" who regularly make the lives of others into hell due to their ability to dig up information on any given person via the internet, we have learned that any amount of information about ourselves put out into cyberspace instantly becomes available to anyone who may have an axe to grind. Never Feed the Troll is smart in the fact that its one of the few films that I have ever seen deal primarily with this very real threat and through examining one night of torment Jet Eller takes us on a round-trip tour into hell.
Linda Brantley (Libby Seymour) is the wife of a reverend at a moderately big church in the south. When her husband heads out of town on business, she has the weekend all to herself. All she needs to do is quickly update the schedule for the church on their website and she can get started trying out some new recipes that her friends have passed along to her. Unfortunately, like many of us, she quickly becomes derailed by the fun of internet-communications. Within the church website’s built in chat she begins dealing with an online troll who quickly begins to dig up information on Linda. While one might expect a preacher’s wife to have nothing hidden in her closet, Linda’s background isn’t quite so squeaky clean. What will happen throughout this rainy night and who is that stranger who keeps showing up in the driveway?
Touted as a thriller in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, Never Feed the Troll may not live up to the accomplishments of the master of suspense, but the story is topical enough and the overall quality of the picture is worthy of an appreciative glance for most cinephiles. I must admit, at times the film can meander a bit when dealing with the back and forth nature of internet chatting, but Eller commands the screen time in a way that makes this all seem quite gripping. The inevitable twists and turns that come about during the third act may very well by the selling points for me. While the preceding events are tense and atmospheric, the finale and the choices that are made by our characters will prove to be the moments that stay with you long after the movie has ended.
While its certainly better than something like this might normally call for, Never Feed the Troll is far from perfect. As with many films that deal with internet technology, you can expect a great deal of unrealistic depictions of what a computer can and cannot do. While this particular film isn’t as bad as something like Sandra Bullock’s The Net, there are a few moments where we step firmly into the world of silly over the top shenanigans. When the film stays in its compulsively active pacing however, that is when it is at its strongest. If available to you, I’d definitely say check it out. You can rent it online via the official website for a relatively cheap price, so if you have a few spare bucks and some time to kill, you can certainly do worse. http://www.neverfeedthetroll.com