With Kick-Ass making headlines both sides of the pond this weekend, Aaron Johnson is definitely a name on everybody’s lips.
The 19-year-old star - who also appeared in last year’s John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy - will also be garnering attention over in France this May.
This time it will be for horror-thriller Chatroom, showing during this year’s Cannes Film Festival as part of the Un Certain Regard category.
Directed by Ringu maestro Hideo Nakata, “it’s a thriller sort of drama,” Johnson tells us. “It’s basically about these teenagers who are online. They talk on chatrooms and manipulate [ each other ] into committing suicide. They bully each-other online.”
Johnson plays William, an onliner who ends up manipulating – some would saying torturing – a group of teenagers in a chatroom for his own pleasure. It’s an about-turn for the actor, who up ‘til now has played more honourable characters like wannabe-superhero Dave Lizewski.
“My character is really a bit of a chameleon; he adapts to what the other characters are like and changes his personality to be a friend,” Johnson says.
Considering Chatroom is directed by the man behind some of the most chilling imagery to come out of Japan in the last 20 years ( Ringu 's telly shocker still gives us the willies), the film also has a distinctive visual look.
“It’s shot like... like a parallel universe,” explains Johnson. “You’ve got his online world that’s all exciting and a vision of what the online world would look like. So we’re all in the same room together, yet we can’t actually see each other.
“It’s all sort of really bright, light and heightened, and you can make up your own personality or persona, what you want. And then offline it’s really this grey, dull atmosphere, everything’s more depressing.”
Just don't expect Johnson's seemingly villainous character to be quite as easy to write off as all that. Johnson has a knack for picking multi-dimensional roles that never take the door marked 'easy'.
“William’s quite a vulnerable, lonely person," the actor admits. "Online is where he feels comfortable. Then it gets out of hand.”
The next Ringu? Or does a moderater need to shut this Chatroom down? Leave a comment...