Browse

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Browse Movie Poster Image
Intriguing but pointless thriller has violence, language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Nobody learns anything in this everything-goes-wrong thriller. Nobody seems responsible for all the terrible things that happen (not even society), and conclusion is dark and unsatisfying.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While characters are intriguing in a creepy, film noir-ish way, they aren't admirable, though main character does refuse to fire his friend, sacrificing his own job in the process. Dialogue objectifies women in a mean, condescending fashion.

Violence

Grainy footage of character dying via suicide. Other characters have suicidal ideation. Gun shown. Some shots fired. A woman knees a man in the crotch. Nightmare. Noose shown. Creepy figure in forest. Slapping. Smashing up apartment. Threats.

Sex

Characters have sex; woman shown on top of a man, from behind (no explicit nudity). Moaning. Sex-related dialogue, some of it demeaning. Characters view a sex-related website. A character browses an internet dating site.

Language

Very strong language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and "bulls--t," plus "swear to God."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking, including by a college-age kid. Main character drinks beers in a bar, at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Browse is a thriller about a man (Lukas Haas) whose life unravels after he contacts a woman on a dating site. Violent scenes include fuzzy video footage of someone dying via suicide; another character has suicidal ideation. A gun is shown and fired, characters get slapped, someone is kneed in the crotch, and there's a creepy nightmare sequence. A couple has sex; while there's no explicit nudity, moaning is heard, and the woman is shown on top of the man, with her back to the camera. There's also fairly frequent sex-related talk, some of it demeaning toward women. A sex-related website is shown, as are dating sites. Language is strong and quite frequent, with uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters, including a college-age kid, smoke cigarettes, and the main character drinks beers in social situations. The movie is often intriguing, but it also seems to have very little point and an unsatisfying conclusion.

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What's the story?

In BROWSE, Richard Coleman (Lukas Haas) lives in a blah apartment, works an unsatisfying tech-related job, and is depressed over the loss of his ex-girlfriend (Jocelin Donahue). He tries online dating and is excited to connect with Veronica (Chloe Bridges), who not only lives nearby but suggests that they meet. She fails to show up, and Richard's life begins to fall apart. Auto payments from his bank aren't being made, he's asked to lay off several co-workers -- including his friend Claire (Sarah Rafferty) -- and Veronica reports him to the police as a stalker. A woman Richard sleeps with posts a video of the two of them together, and Kyle (Bodhi Elfman), who works in Richard's building, keeps bringing up the grisly story of a man who died via suicide on the roof. Then Richard receives a mysterious package.

Is it any good?

In a perfect world, this thriller, with its onslaught of stomach-churning "oh no!" moments, would've had a point, something that connected it all together (or at least a conclusion), but it doesn't. There have been many "paranoid thriller" movies about someone's life going horribly wrong on all fronts, but there's usually either a villain engineering and manipulating the whole thing or some kind of commentary about the nature of society. Browse has neither. There are at least two or three supporting characters who could have been responsible for Richard's downfall, but the movie never reveals which one, or, indeed, if anyone at all was to blame. Moreover, the movie's bizarre ending -- which goes right to the edge but doesn't take the final leap -- will leave you asking, "What was that all about?"

Browse is certainly an intriguing movie, with its fascinating cast of characters, its odd touches (like the plastic-covered furniture), and its dark way of generating dread-filled suspense. Each new bad thing that happens to Richard is like a sickening drop of the other shoe. The otherworldly-looking Haas is perfect for the lead role, shabby and shambling perhaps a half-step behind everyone else. Meanwhile, the supporting cast seems to operate at a slightly escalated speed, knocking things off-kilter. But ultimately all of it simply doesn't add up to anything, and it leaves off as unsatisfying as a stood-up date.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Browse depicts sex. Is there trust or equality? Is it used as a way to obtain power or to degrade someone? What's the difference?

  • How does the movie address suicide? How is suicide typically depicted in the media?

  • Is it realistic to be afraid of having your entire life ruined via your internet use? How can you protect yourself?

  • How is smoking depicted here? Does it look cool? Are there consequences for smoking?

  • What, if anything, does the movie have to say about the way we live today, in terms of money, love, technology, and so forth?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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