Youtube is a remarkable platform. It is a space solely developed to entice the viewer to spend as much time on it as possible, watching as many videos as possible each day. A simplistic algorithm powers the site and places before you videos the formula suggests will keep you rooted in place. It is a time suck.
Consequently, since Youtube is a place programmed and developed to encourage you to waste your time, it necessarily must provide all the possible content that will serve that goal. Thus, at its best, the platform can be a laboratory for new filmmakers and avant-garde experimenters to upload their work. After all, as far as Youtube is concerned, the only necessary thing is for you to stay planted in your seat watching all the videos. In that vein, I’m here to discuss Josh Horvath’s feature-film debut, A Knot in the Web. The drama’s first impression is that it’s a hand-crafted production made with no budget. In fact, Horvath acknowledges as much in his prolonged credit sequence.
“…a developer named Kevin…has been newly hired by an early internet company known as ARPA.”
Set in 1994, A Knot in the Web focuses on a developer named Kevin (Horvath). Kevin is a narcoleptic, recently prescribed Stratera, a brain-engaging drug he is addicted to. He has been newly hired by an early internet company known as ARPA. For those of you who recall the military Arpanet or the Defense department sub-contractor DARPA, you can probably guess what ARPA’s goals entail.
For much of the duration of the narrative, Kevin intermittently fought off attacks of narcolepsy while at the same time listening to the tape tutorial series provided by ARPA. The blend of Artificial Intelligence and a narcoleptic developer who is not in any way oriented to person, place, or time creates a heady and surreal experience. The filmmaker heavily relies on retro technologies that were probably found in his parents’ storage space – this includes 3.5-inch floppy discs, a portable hard drive, and the Apple line of MAC computers. He uses all these elements and forgotten tech to good effect. If A Knot in the Web were presented as a lost media piece prepared by a man in 1994, I’d easily buy that.
A Knot in the Web is a pretty good film that calls to mind Cronenberg’s obsession with technology, as seen in Videodrome. However, it has a milder, gentler approach than anything Cronenberg has produced. But, if you have an hour to spare, this is a fine selection to waste some time with.
"…a fine selection to waste some time with."