We all know how important cyber security is today and how prevalent that cyber-stalking has become. Ratter takes on both of these issues in a horror/thriller that paces itself much too slowly to ever become compelling. Ashley Benson of “Pretty Little Liars” fame stars as Emma, a pretty, young grad student who has moved to New York on her own to finish school. She finds a small, but serviceable apartment in Brooklyn. Like many college students Emma is fairly addicted to her electronics devices…cell phone, lap top, tablets, etc., and often is found recording herself.
Ratter is not a first-person style film as we often see in horror films but rather we see her through the lens of the various devices that she has setup in her apartment including, apparently, a webcam. Much of the first 30 – 40 minutes is spent in voyeuristic fashion as we watch Emma perform every day, mundane tasks like working out, cooking dinner, shaving her legs, and sleeping. Yes she is dressed scantily for most of the films and she’s beautiful but titillation was not the point of the film. In fact, it was at the thirty minute mark that I started to check the time and see how much longer the film had to go. Never a good sign! We are a good forty minutes in before we realize that someone else is watching Emma along with us.
This begins with such subtlety that you don’t notice. Her laptop begins to play music on its own. Was this just some computer glitch? Emma soon begins to receive strange texts and porn links from a new male classmate named Michael. Michael claims he was hacked and apologizes profusely but Emma is visibly shaken. She realizes that her laptop has also been hacked and consults a nerdy tech guy for help.
The unknown hacker begins to play havoc with her personal life…deleting e-mails and voice messages and sending threats to Michael. But he is about to go past just looking through a camera lens and making his intrusions more personal.
Ratter is unique in that almost the entire film takes place within the confines of Emma’s apartment and outside of a few scenes with her friends she is the sole character on screen. To Benson’s credit she does believable job of portraying the naive college student living out of her element. Even when she discovers that she’s being stalked she admits to her parents that she thought she could deal with it on her own.
There are genuinely creepy moments but those come in the last 10 – 15 minutes after over an hour of sitting through daily chores and dull conversations with friends and family. It’s hard to invest too much into Emma as there is scant development of her character. But in the end that seems to be the fatalist take that director Branden Kramer was looking to achieve. This diatribe on the threat of cyber-stalking seems to be saying that Emma’s fate was inevitable. Yet Emma missteps constantly in not taking common sense measures when she first notices she’s being stalked. If you are being stalked why continue to utilize the devices and leave them on constantly?
Ratter is far too slow and meandering to be saved by its climax but Benson is enjoyable.