Ripped from the headlines comes a murder mystery of cybersex, blood lust, and betrayal. Named for the point-of-no-return moment of its protagonist, U Want Me 2 Kill Him? takes audiences deep into the rabbit hole of internet relationships and teenage infatuation.
Andrew Douglas, the director of the chilling 2005 Amityville Horror reboot, begins U Want Me 2 Kill Him? with blood. Sixteen-year-old Mark (Jamie Blackley) has stabbed classmate John (Toby Regbo) in the chest. But when the police demand to know why, he says only that it was "for the greater good." From here, the film leaps back three months, where Mark's flirtatious online chats with John's sister, Rachel (Jaime Winstone), lead to a promise to watch out for her bullied brother. But Mark and John's budding friendship turns dark when Rachel is murdered and the boys plot revenge.
Teasing its true origins from the start, U Want Me 2 Kill Him? is laced with a sense of menace. Teen boys brag about how tough they are, how they can kill, and because of the opening, it doesn't feel like shallow swagger. What will lead Mark, a popular and handsome jock, to stab the outsider who'd become his friend? That is the mystery at the core of the film, and even when answers begin to unravel, the entirety of the “Why” holds up until its final act.
With an icy color palette and a stark cinematography, there's a lean grittiness to the narrative that injects it with an anxious energy befitting this story of rage and revenge. To their credit, Blackley and Regbo knit a tight bond of toxic brotherhood. They are believable in each turn, from tenuous buddies, to earnest friends, to their final dark incarnation. Blackley is especially impressive, displaying flashes of teen bravado along with pangs of searing vulnerability.
Where the film falters is ultimately a matter of the script. As carefully as the two lead boys are constructed, the rest of the characters feel slapdash and sometimes downright unbelievable. There's a one-dimensional growling dad, a teary-eyed dopey mom, a reckless teen nymphet, and then an array of older women who brazenly lust for young Mark. It could be argued that these are meant to be the shallow perceptions of Mark himself, except the film isn't always on him, straying away to follow the investigation of Detective Inspector Sarah Clayton (Joanne Froggatt, in a thankless role).
But the bigger issue of this mystery is how early it tips its biggest twist. My hands are tied on an explanation here. To go into detail would be to reveal major spoilers, but suffice to say there's a point in the online chatting where Mark's naiveté becomes downright ludicrous.
Still, U Want Me 2 Kill Him? is an intriguing film that follows in the tradition of thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. It doesn't possess the macabre banter of that classic, but is certainly more accessible, playing on the worst fears of parents and teens alike. All in all, it offers an enticing and sickening story, bolstered by performances by two actors who are well cast and captivating. Even with its sloppy second act, the narrative picks up enough momentum to power it through to a creepy conclusion.