Why don’t you take a seat?

We’ve all heard this famed catchphrase somewhere in passing. Either on social media, in pop culture referencing, or from the original source itself; the lore of Chris Hansen’s To Catch A Predator has already reached a unique form of cult status. The child predator tracking show is well-renowned around the globe and has even been replicated in numerous other formats. Though arguably the most compelling rendition of Hansen’s formula has to go to Czechoslovakian filmmakers Vít Klusák &  Barbora Chalupová, with their recent local box-office smash Caught in the Net. A documentary focusing on three adult actresses in disguise as three twelve-year-old minors, the film highlights the disturbing reality of predatory behaviour on the worldwide web. 

10 days, 3 bedroom sets, 2,458 predators, and 21 live meetings later, Caught in The Net’s extensive coverage on the rise of pedophile behaviour online is an absolutely enraging ordeal. The usage of coercion, blackmail, and general sexual abuse on the web is frightening. With psychologists, lawyers, and children’s crisis personnel on set with the three actresses, the film never fails to detail both the legal and psychological effects of internet-based pedophile sex crimes. With the three actresses hiding in plain sight, Caught in the Net offers extensive real-time detail on how these awful sub-human monsters lure young children through money and other persuasive tactics. 

The amount of information detailed in Caught in the Net is not for the faint of heart. The final scene in the film is especially angering, where even with the additional title card detailing the local police investigation of these horrid individuals, the situation still needs more justice and retribution to take place. But that’s the beauty of film. There’s urgency and effect. In some ways, this may be destined to become a modern-day The Thin Blue Line situation, where the eventual global release of the film could lead to life-changing results. The amount of information presented is alarming, and fact of the matter is that sites such as Skype, Snapchat, and Facebook aren’t doing enough in their favour to protect susceptible youth. 

Outside of the occasional tidbits where the film often draws a little too much attention to itself when it becomes self-referential in regards to the documentary process itself, Caught in the Net is a surefire contender for doc of the year. It is an absolutely essential film, especially during a time where the internet has largely become a necessity in daily routine. There is still hope at the end of the dark abyss of the web if people bother to listen and take action. Films can change lives, and hopefully Caught in the Net could be the next major cultural exposé to create a safer form of internet passage for all.

Dir: Vít Klusák &  Barbora Chalupová

Country: Czech Republic, Slovakia

Year: 2020

Run time: 101 minutes

Caught in the Net screened at this year’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema as part of the TEMPS Ø program.

 

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