Mr. Movie

'Catfish' a quirky winner

Documentaries about quirky people are supposed to be at least a bit quirky. On an imaginary one to 10 quirky scale, with 10 being the best, Catfish sits at the top.

And at the bottom.

That needs some explaining. Nev Schulman is a photographer whose photos are gaining popularity. They were noticed by 8-year-old Abby who lives in Michigan. Nev connects with her via Facebook. She paints a picture of one of his photos and sends it to him.

It's better than good.

Sensing he's in the presence of pure genius and hooked by her skill at such a young age, Nev develops a relationship with Abby. Nev's brother Ariel Schulman and his filmmaking pal Henry Joost sense the possibility of a great documentary and they begin to put the relationship on film.

Soon Nev is talking with Abby's mom on the phone. Then he gets deeply attracted to Abby's older sister Megan. Though they've never met the relationship gets so intense that Nev starts to believe that once they meet there could be more.

Then the family's story starts to unravel.

Catfish> is billed as a real-life mystery; something with Alfred Hitchcock-like suspense enough going for it to impress a mystery master. There is even a nightmarish, late-night rendezvous at an empty house in the middle of nowhere.

And up to that point you are deeply hooked. This is the 10 in the zero to 10 scale and also where the zero comes into play. To reveal why takes away the surprise. Some of you - like me - will find it fascinating. Others will yawn and wish you'd spent your movie dollars elsewhere.

Many of you will think the whole thing a hoax. That's part of the film's appeal, too.

To me the fizzle at the film's conclusion is almost as compelling as the mystery and still gets a 10. You'll have to see it to see if your opinion is the same.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some language. It opens Friday, Oct. 22, at the Carmike 12.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie

3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD

2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother

0 stars: Speaks for itself