Highly uncomfortable but essential viewing as this Czech documentary-cum-social experiment attempts to bring to light the dark, paedophilic world of online sexual abuse of children.
Dir. Barbora Chalupova & Vit Klusak
2020 | Czech Republic | Documentary | 100 mins | Czech
R21 (passed clean) for sexual content and nudity
Plot: Two documentarians, in exploring the world of online sexual abuse of children, succeed in turning an experiment into an act of social intervention.
International Sales: Autlook Film Sales (SG: Anticipate Pictures)
Subject Matter: Mature – Pedophilia, Online Sexual Abuse
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: –
Viewed: The Projector
By the end of Caught in the Net, you cannot help but tense up upon hearing the famous Skype ring tone, very much like how Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony became a traumatic trigger for Alex in A Clockwork Orange (1971).
In this latest documentary directed by Barbora Chalupova and Vit Klusak (whom I was first acquainted with for 2004’s Czech Dream, a film my team and I programmed for the Perspectives Film Festival a decade ago), we dive into the dark, paedophilic world of online sexual abuse of children, a subject matter that is not easy to deal with, but Caught in the Net is essential viewing for anybody willing to open their eyes to uncomfortable truths.
Functioning as a social experiment, the documentary sees three very young-looking women pose as 12-year olds with fake profiles to enter the dark web.
The crew (including a sexologist and legal consultant) operate behind-the-scenes which we are also privy to, advising on how to respond to the countless men who would solicit sexual favours from each ‘actress’.
It can get pretty disturbing without fair warning as many of these men (some of whom old enough to be granddads) begin conversing explicitly about what they want (“take off your shirt”; “show me your breasts”; “let me show you my dick”, etc.).
Be prepared for copious amounts of unsavoury pics and live acts of masturbation—all pixelated of course if only to spare us nightmares, yet it leaves nothing to the imagination.
It’s gross, but it’s real and it is unimaginable to think how many girls—and boys—in the world continue to be subjected to these experiences.
Caught in the Net may get repetitive after a while as familiar patterns emerge, though there are some unexpected moments, nasty or otherwise, that provide enough food for thought to mull over on your trip home.