Saturday 20 January 2024

Movie Review: Accused (2023)

Genre: Suspense Drama  
Director: Philip Barantini  
Starring: Chaneil Kular, Lauryn Ajufo  
Running Time: 88 minutes  

Synopsis: Harri (Chaneil Kular) lives in London, where he hangs out with his girlfriend Chloe (Lauryn Ajufo). He travels by train to his family's country estate to care for the family dog while his parents go on vacation. On the way, a rail station is bombed by a terrorist. That night, the police release a grainy photo of the bomber, and on-line amateur sleuths wrongly identify Harri as the terrorist. He is soon experiencing a living nightmare of online abuse and becomes the target of violent vigilantes.

What Works Well: The first half of this independent British production is a taut descent into a social media maelstrom, executed by director Philip Barantini with breathless panache. Harri's brown skin and presence in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a rapid and terrifying guilty verdict, according to an out-of-control virtual world operating on fear, racism, over-zealous emotions, and in hyperspeed.

What Does Not Work As Well: The second half is a disappointment, and mostly consists of stock defend-the-fort suspense beats. Things go bump in the night, doors creak, and shadowy figures skulk around the bushes. Having earlier not hesitated to call for help, Harri decides to not summon the police just when he needs them most, and other character actions in the final act are equally plot-convenient.

Conclusion: Searing commentary about social media brutality surrenders to seen-it-all-before clich├ęs.

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