U Want Me 2 Buy This?, by Aaron Pinkston
The crazy premise and even crazier title of the British thriller U Want Me 2 Kill Him? suggests a certain grade of a made-for-television movie that plays for cheap thrills and sensationalism — especially given its “can you actually believed this happened?” true story nature. Granted, the film isn’t incredibly smart or socially piercing, but Andrew Douglas’s follow-up to The Amityville Horror Ryan Reynolds remake is sharper than one might expect, with a lead performance from young Jamie Blackley that shows off a promising future. That doesn’t mean that U Man Me 2 Kill Him? is by any means successful, as a reliance on twists ultimately dooms it.
Before I get too deep into this review I need to say that most of my thoughts are difficult to fully explore without spoiling integral plot detail — the film’s structure is to blame for this, not me. With that in mind, I will keep this review as general as possible, but this is a case where my major problems with the film aren’t necessarily specific plot details, but with an overall construction that knowledge of may in itself be a spoiler. Proceed with caution. With that said, U Want Me 2 Kill Him? begins with a teen being questioned by police for a crime he admits to committing, but one he feels confidently justified about. Leading up to the crime we see Mark (Jamie Blackley) becoming romantically involved over chatrooms with a young woman named Rachel. At the same time as his relationship with Rachel begins to blossom, he starts an “away-from-keyboard” friendship with her outcast younger brother, John. After Rachel ends up dead, Mark blames the jealous and violent boyfriend that she had mentioned to him — this then somehow spirals into complicated events involving secret police and possible terrorist threats.
We are given a certain presentation of the film’s events that are partially from Mark’s perspective, but infused through his imagining of these events. This is done in order to make important and extensive chatroom sessions feel more cinematic, as characters verbalize their conversation while typing — it’s extraordinarily awkward and unnatural, but this can be mostly swept away with the thought of Mark pretending what his chatmates look and sound like while in these intimate conversations. Really, though, the effect comes across like much of the film’s tone of put-upon seriousness. This is particularly egregious when we meet Rachel’s violent boyfriend, who is as outrageously one-sided a character as you’ll ever see — and certainly not helped by the ominously dangerous darkly lit scenery and soundtrack.
What’s more, Mark’s unreliable perspective comes into full play when considering the ending of the film (OK, here’s where it’ll be extra hard to remain spoiler-free). The film manipulates in the worst way possible, playing out whole scenes and characters who become a complete ruse when the curtain is pulled back. Perhaps even worse, none of the film’s third act surprises were at all surprising — the construction of the film is intricate and choreographed to the point of tipping its hand. I suppose none of this would be entirely damnable, but for two things: the film’s slick nature highlighting how important the third act is for the film’s success and the complete lack of motivation behind the ultimate revelation. Again, the film can safely hide behind the “true story” wall, but that doesn’t give the film free justification to present characters without depth or logical action.
There have been other films which tred similarly puzzling plots, which gives U Want Me 2 Kill Him? a tough task — other films that, by and large, are more surprising and tense, with deeper insight to themes of how we connect with others in the modern technological age. That doesn’t mean the film has nothing of value to say on this subject, but its botched presentation shifts the conversation away from a meaningful discussion to a tabloid sense of storytelling.