09th Feb2021

‘PVT Chat’ VOD Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Nikki Belfiglio, Atticus Cain, Buddy Duress, Julia Fox, Kevin Moccia, Keith Poulson, Peter Vack, David White | Written and Directed by Ben Hozie

Ben Hozie (Annunciation, The Lion’s Den) writes and directs PVT Chat, a psycho-erotic drama about a New York City based online gambler named Jack (Peter Vack) who begins an obsession with a cam-girl called Scarlet (Julia Fox), which leads to different places when he runs into her in real-life on the streets.

The movie begins nicely enough, with a heart-warming scene involving masturbatory fantasies related to high-heel shoes and cigarettes, but things get a little more adult from there. The way the film is shot feels very intimate, maybe too intimate, as we enter the up-close world of Jack and Scarlet’s noxious relationship (if relationship is even the right term). The sexual acts and moments in which the two open up to one another feel like we’re in the same room, invisible, sitting on a chair beside them. This almost claustrophobic manner of filming works well for the tone and plot of PVT Chat, but that plot itself is where I found myself experiencing some difficulties.

There’s something that should really be emphasised in the modern day of cinema and media, when themes such as this are explored, and that is the way that models and workers in these worlds are portrayed. There’s an uncomfortable level of reverence placed on Jack’s actions here as he becomes more and more obsessed with Scarlet, the way his fixation leads him to almost demand a real-life relationship with her, and that’s something that is pretty startling really. The finale was weird for me, and one that could have easily been avoided if they’d gone the route of “if this were real”. I wasn’t too fond of how this one concluded, if I’m honest. It edges more on drama much of the time than the dark thriller I expected it to be, and it is, at times, very graphic, with some explicit sexual scenes.

Still, there’s bits to like about PVT Chat that means it doesn’t fall completely flat. There are some interesting conversations between Jack and Scarlet that show each of their vulnerabilities, and the handi-cam style in which the film plays out added to the feeling of voyeurism that was obviously intended. Julia Fox, who I’d seem prior in films like Uncut Gems and Puppet, is the backbone of the movie, and easily puts in the best performance here, though I would have liked her to have offered more as a character overall, and shown some extra chutzpah and strength. She is a little… flat, which we know she’s capable of more than being.

PVT Chat looks into intimacy in the lives of two people who can’t seem to grasp that very thing anywhere else. It delves a little into the concept of “going too far” and of seeking to strip back layers of a relationship that shouldn’t be available to strip back. A story of being consumed by the idea of someone to the point of tormenting them into becoming more than they perhaps wish to be, it had the wheels to have been something interesting and well-done, but wound up making some questionable turns in the road. If it had gone in the direction I almost hoped and partly thought it would, I would have likely had a very different view of the film. But hey, this isn’t my movie, so that’s fair enough, I just thought the closing moments and the road it eventually took downplayed a lot of Jack’s behaviour and felt kind of useless as a narrative. Not the best example of a film exploring this sort of theme, I still thought it was kind of okay. But… just kind of okay.

** 2/5

PVT Chat is available on digital from this Friday, February 12th, from Vertigo Releasing.


Comments are closed.