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Caught In The Net (Home Entertainment Review)

4 min read

The notion of online grooming is a scary one. Very scary, and very real. Presented with some shocking facts about children using the internet with no parental control or filter, we delve into the process by Czech filmmaker Vít Klusák to cast and create a about online predators and their motives.

  • 3 actresses in their early 20s playing 12 year olds.
  • 3 sets dressed as childrens room.
  • 10 days.

So begins the shocking but brave (and moral?) look at the dangers of minors using the internet and the predators that lurk in cyberspace, snaring them in controlled circumstances and confronting them. A strict set of rules and laws are followed, and the online browsing commences, and even on global social media platforms we know and use daily, it's shocking how quickly men flock around a new profile, sending requests to chat, video call and explore their knowledge – or rather want – of sex. It is nothing but shocking how long it takes for these “minors” to recieve video calls and pictures from older men who make it very clear they are sexually aroused and without real compassion for the feelings of these young girls. They don't want to talk, they just want sexual images and conversation. Never the less, we see blackmail and manipulation in action. Pictures are stolen from webcams, semi-nude images (taken with consenting photoshopped of-age models to act as the child) are obtained through manipulation then turned around for leverage. It's awful to watch when the chilling accompanying score by Jonatán Pastirčák highlights a moment of real threat and the crew are on full alert.

Within seconds of logging on to messaging platforms, there are videos and pictures (pixelated around faces and genetals) that pop up from adult men encouraging, questioning and proposing the girls for sexual images and actions for money. While it's taking place in the Czech Republic for this documentary, it's hard to imagine that filmmakers in the United Kingdom would be as brave to do this. Yet it's a global issue. It's a global crime, and still goes ahead daily to millions of innocent youths exposed to social media platforms, and this shows how easy it can be for them to be contacted.

Our three actresses are brilliant. Tereza Těžká, Sabina Dlouhá and Anežka Pithartová are posing as the 12 year-olds in specially constructed sets by Klusák and his team monitoring their chats and actions. Surrounded by psychologists, legal consultants and charity workers, the girls face webcams as they browse social media, taking call after call from man after man. They work hard to embody the mind and character of these young girls who are both naive but interested in the world, and inquisitive but afraid of what is asked of them. Three brilliant young women who represent an entire generation, who thankfully are strong in will and spirit to know what they are doing and display real friendship, support, and warmth together when not acting for the webcams, not afraid to laugh at the often ridiculous excuses and actions of these men. Yet we also see what happens when after ten days of constant grooming and abuse, a genuine good-hearted soul arrives who simply wants to talk and offer words of care to these “young girls” opening up to men they don't know.

And since it's not just about luring predators online, we spend the final act where our “children” agree to meet their predators in a public place, and pry out reasonings and rationale behind their actions face to face. It still doesn't make for comfortable viewing even in public.

This is a raw, honest and fascinating documentary. It's not just about hidden cameras and turning the predators into prey, but exploring the psychology behind what makes social media predators the way they are. What drives them in a sense of invulnerabilty that they can do and say what they want to minors? Where do they live and work, and do they pose greater threats? These are some of the questions the team want to try and discover the answers to. The experts surrounding the girls provide the comfort and support that is crucial for a documentary like this, and help point out to the actors (and us as viewers) the severity of these crimes and the repercussions that will come for them and the young children who are exposed to it. It just leaves you angry that almost nothing is done to make it harder for these predators to prey on innocent children in the dark depths of the internet. A brilliant, brave and very important film from Vít Klusák and his team.

will be availiable on digital download from 7th February 2022.