A true story exposing how women and girls were coerced into sharing explicit materials in chat rooms online.
This review of Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror is spoiler-free.
Netflix has released their latest crime documentary thriller Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror, directed by Jin-seong Choi (Camellia Project, Erotic Chaos Boys, and Reservoir Dogs Take 1 & 2), this chilling tale from South Korea brings out all our online fears, uncovering the 2019 chat room antics that shocked the whole country.
In this feature-length documentary, we follow the story of female victims, journalists, and cybercrime police officers chasing down the “Nth Room”, an online chat room that is rampant with sex crimes. We follow the hunt to take down the people operating the system and get some justice. The film reveals how women and girls were coerced into uploading explicit images and videos of themselves to chat rooms, where the leaders would charge fees for users to access.
This is a story that we might all feel familiar with, which makes this even more fascinating and frightening. The Internet has its wonderful advantages and then its wild disadvantages. Used properly we can expand our knowledge and skills, and used incorrectly, we are all put in a place of danger. We listen to multiple journalists discussing what they investigated, what they heard and saw, and how it affected them personally. Once the story became public knowledge, the chat rooms became more popular, which really shows how disgusting people are online. The investigation and the chase are intense. Trying to find people online is a tricky and complex business and you can hide a lot easier online than in real life, and these online abusers are extreme. They are confident, feel like they have power and control, and are not afraid to show it. From beginning to end this documentary is gripping, entertaining, and a must-watch. I couldn’t take my attention away from it.
Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror features subtitles and voice-over, which aren’t always accurate, but it doesn’t distract or take away from the content. All situations are re-enactments; some people interviewed hide their faces and are sat in the dark. Wanting to conceal their identity shows me that they still might feel scared and threatened by the online abusers. All material is blurred out to protect the victims, but still packs a punch.
What this documentary film really showcases is how societies fail women and children. Not only real-world societies but the online world we’re creating. They are not protected, they are targeted. These online terrorists went after people who were poor, struggling for work, and who needed money, telling us that poverty also plays a part in how people get involved in these online situations. The victims were made to believe they would be working and getting paid, causing them to send their personal details such as their date of birth and address, only for this to be used against them in blackmail threats.
I think what is most shocking and disgusting about this is that these women and children were used in a sick game where they were forced to perform tasks, as the men in the chat room discussed how they would harass the victims. This goes a lot further than sending one nude, they were coerced into sending videos of them licking bathroom floor tiles, shoving multiple pens into their genitals, and more degrading media. A lot of images would be watermarked, and the perpetrators would force the victims to write “slave” on their bodies. Not just written with pens, but some are forced to carve into themselves.
What is heightened for me in Cyber Hell: Exposing an Internet Horror is the power and control people who you have never met can have over you. People are so afraid of their private images and information being exposed, or scared for their lives, that they will degrade and deprive themselves to try and save themselves. This control and oppression of women is sadly nothing new and is something that will continue as the threat to women is still widespread and extreme.
Overall this documentary is an interesting and frustrating watch. It’s definitely an important watch as it will open your eyes to the abuse and control that people can suffer online. Hopefully, this might help people in the future, and raise awareness, so that more precautions and laws can be put in place to protect people online. I highly recommend watching it.