Directors: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Catfish is a documentary about a man who befriends a family on Facebook after their 8-year-old daughter sends him some paintings through the mail. At first he only remains in contact with the girl, but she slowly introduces him to the rest of her family including her mother, brother and her 19-year-old sister. The subject of the film, Nev Schulman, ends up becoming greatly attached to this family and eventually decides to make a surprise visit to their home in Ishpeming, Michigan, which is in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Peninsula.
I didn’t know much about Catfish going into it, other than the fact that a lot of people were pissed off about the trailer misrepresenting the actual movie. I didn’t watch the trailer until after the movie, but I can totally understand how this would upset people. The trailer makes the film out to be some kind of indie horror Blair Witch Project-type movie, which the documentary is anything but. There are definitely some suspenseful moments when Nev and his two filmmaker friends arrive in Ishpeming, but it’s more of a “what will they find” type of non-scary vibe. As long as you go into the movie with an open mind, you won’t have this problem.
The movie itself is very, very interesting. Unfortunately, I cannot go into too much detail at the risk of spoilers but let’s just say that the story takes an interesting twist in the second half of the film. Catfish starts off a little slow, but Nev and his friends are so likable that it is easy to keep interest as he continues to converse with all of the family members.
A lot of people are questioning whether this is a legitimate documentary or an elaborate hoax, but it honestly does not matter if it is real or not. This is a great story that really makes you think about the boundaries of online relationships. Catfish is an intriguing experiment that deserves the accolades it has been receiving. Just don’t go into it expecting a horror movie!