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“Murdershow” effectively exploits fears about the dark web and the nefarious reasons some seek anonymity online — plus creepy clowns!

The Deep Web Murdershow

The Deep Web: Murdershow blends the covert nightmares of the dark web and cryptocurrency with elements of torture porn and a healthy dose of Coulrophobia (fear of clowns).

Of course, it is certainly not the first film to exploit the fears of the dark web and the fact that most people understand little to nothing about this hidden corner of the internet, making it seem exceedingly enigmatic and scary.

Depending on which survey you read, at least half of American adults say they understand nothing about the dark web. On a global scale, as many as 70 percent remain baffled by it.

In a recent survey of dark web users, researchers determined that a whopping 84.7% of dark web users identified as male, mostly aged 18-45 years old, adding fuel to fears that it’s often used for nefarious purposes, given how exclusive of a club it seems to be.

While only around 7% of global users use the dark web for illicit activities, there’s no doubt there’s plenty of trouble to be found if you go looking for it. Does that trouble include live murder shows and genuine snuff films? Hopefully not.

Yet, the brilliance of movies like Murdershow is that it doesn’t feel outside the realm of plausibility.

Combining fears of the dark web with crypto is savvy because, as much as people struggle to understand the dark web, even more remain nonplussed by crypto.

According to a 2024 survey, only 18% of people say they really understand this form of digital currency.

Interestingly, crypto enthusiasts have a lot in common with horror aficionados, fearlessly embracing risk and uncertainty.

The unsettling volatility proves irresistible, a comparison an expert from described as thrilling. ‘Trading Bitcoin’, they said, “is not unlike watching a terrifying yet captivating horror film — you never truly know what to expect next.”

The rush of being in an elite minority who not only understands but expertly navigates both the world of the dark web and crypto must be intoxicating, and Murdershow gives us a peek into a form of toxic superiority that makes it easy to devalue human life and see people as nothing more than pawns to be played with and things to be bought and sold in the name of entertainment.

Given how much of a forbidden thrill is inherent in this mostly inaccessible playground, it’s not a stretch to imagine these thrill seekers constantly needing more and more shocking content and subversive risks to keep that adrenaline rush, forever chasing that elusive high.

A little bit of Haunt meets Hostel meets Unfriended, The Deep Web: Murdershow begins in harrowing fashion.  

A woman wakes up alone on the floor of a dense evergreen forest. She’s draped in heavy chains, with a camera at her stomach covered in thick barbed wire. Another camera is pointed at her from a nearby tree.

She begins to stumble her way through the forest, searching for a way out.

A flashback takes us to three young women leaving a bar late at night, clearly intoxicated. Two of the friends, Clare (Jamila Hall) and Kate (Kimi Alexander), decide to head home for pajamas and horror movies, but Amanda (Lauren Jackson) has other plans. She wants to hook up with a man named Griffith, whom she met online.

Back in the forest, the woman we now know as Amanda is realizing there will be no easy escape from her perilous situation.

She encounters a man wearing a creepy clown mask and playing an equally unnerving clown-themed jack-in-the-box.

Back at her supposed meet-up with Griffith, Amanda is abducted.

 What happens next is truly chilling.

After being attacked and drugged in the forest, Amanda awakens again, this time strapped to a wooden cross in a room with neon lights, cameras, and bloodied torture tools. A countdown on the wall tells us the next show is about to begin.

It’s clear her nightmarish ordeal is being live-streamed as the clown killer appears from behind a plastic curtain wielding a chainsaw (the scariest weapon in all of the horror, in my humble opinion).

We then cut to a series of news clippings about a gruesome killing spree and speculation that a death cult may be behind the string of grisly deaths and mutilations.

Next, we meet Amanda’s brother, Ethan (Aiden Howard), an anti-cop true crime podcaster. At Amanda’s funeral, he reconnects with her best friend, Kate. Over coffee, Kate tells him about a dark web site called The Murdershow that she and Amanda stumbled upon, where virtual audience members placed crypto bids to determine the fate of a victim.

Armed with this information and a video full of cryptic clues, the two enlist the help of a notorious hacker, Shadow (Brendan Fletcher), to try to figure out who is behind the nefarious group, only to find themselves targets.

Despite the familiar subject matter, there’s a solid amount of creativity on display that makes Murdershow feel unique and entertaining.

The trio of ringleaders helming this horror show are well-designed and fear-inspiring, donning effectively creepy clown masks you can even purchase thanks to Trick or Treat Studios.

Most of the acting is believable and engaging, especially the scene-stealing Fletcher as a stereotypical paranoid, over-the-top, stoned hacker and Alexander as a capable and kickass heroine who gets some time to truly shine in the final confrontation with our murderous clowns.

Unfortunately, the male lead, Aiden Howard, isn’t as strong as his co-stars, and this hurts the film at times, given how much is put on his shoulders.

For me, it never took me out of the film or seriously hampered my enjoyment, but it could have been elevated with a stronger performance, especially during the more dramatic and emotional scenes.

It’s surprisingly polished for a low-budget affair, featuring a strong set design by David Baines and an exceptional score by composer Antonio Gradanti that works well to build tension and rattle your nerves during intense scenes.

As a side note, the film ends with a fantastic and extremely caught end credits song that’s not available on Spotify, sadly (or anywhere else I could find).

Murdershow is a brisk 90 minutes and is generally well-paced.

After a really strong opening, the second act does lag a bit. Most horror fans will be far more interested in seeing more gore, intense kills, and terrifying clown action. We get some, and it’s well done, but it’s not as much as I wanted or that most hardcore horror fans will be satiated by.

The film is, thankfully, bookended by an equally fun ending that, though predictable, was enjoyable to watch.

The Deep Web: Murdershow was written and directed by Dan Zachary (Darkest Hour, Mortal Remains, and American Conjuring).

He tragically passed away following a brief and tragic illness on December 31, 2022, months before his film could be released. Knowing this adds an extra layer of horror to the movie and makes it important that Murdershow not just fade into oblivion.

It’s a Tubi original, but don’t let that deter you from checking this one out.

The Deep Web: Murdershow may not be a masterpiece, but it is a good time with a twisted premise, interesting visuals, and well-executed villains.

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