PVT Chat is a low-budget, independent drama flick that displays a stressful situation, but lacks in quality. Despite its shortcomings, the film portrays the haunting and introverted life of Jack in New York City as a brutal journey filled with horrid and unexpected turns. Director and writer Ben Hozie is truly adept at showing Jack taking many risks, and it mostly works. However, the film begins to have its boring moments by trying too hard to continue to provide shock value. A great deal of time is spent building up and putting the pieces together. PVT Chat is a predictable puzzle of deception, addiction, and consistent poor judgment by Jack on his MacBook computer.
Peter Vack plays Jack. Jack makes a living off from internet gambling in New York City. He does not make the right financial decisions and displays terrible habits when it comes to financial responsibilities. He does fine with his online gambling and with a budget he could get by on. But Jack uses his gambling money on a cam girl he has grown to be obsessed with named Scarlet (played by Julia Fox). Jack is always thinking about Scarlet and feels he is finding a connection, with her. Things seem too good to be true when he comes across her presence in a grocery store. This leads Jack on a journey of addiction and answers in hopes that Scarlet can be the women of his dreams. As he continues his life of poor spending and online gambling, things spiral out of control with debts, unexplained financial situations, and not being able to successfully keep his life straight. The film displays many of the same stressors that people felt in the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems (2019), but this time around the storyline focuses on the addiction to online activities for one young New York stud.
PVT Chat involves a subject matter that is not unheard of in today’s world of technology, and it is brutally honest. The film displays how dangerous the outcomes of online web activities can be, and especially for those who become addicted to people they meet online. Jack’s addiction to Scarlet is one he finds difficult to overcome, and he keeps doing what he can to keep her in his life. Unfortunately, he does not understand that his decisions have irreparable consequences. Still, he keeps giving her money online to keep her in his life but has no idea that he is going down a rabbit hole of catastrophe. Scarlet may be an attractive and gentle soul in Jack’s head but could turn out to be the complete opposite.
When I watched PVT Chat I could not help but imagine how much stress this situation could add in today’s already difficult times. Especially when the job market is tight, much of the economy is in dire need of restoration, and many are having mixed emotions due to the anxiety of being furloughed or trying to feed their families. People’s minds have been all over the place in these weird pandemic times and for someone like Jack, it is easy to see how addictions can spiral out of control. The film is a representation of the dark web displayed in a realistic and disturbing way, but it is just more graphic than it needs to be during many scenes. Two and a half stars.