SXSW Film Review: Deep WebFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 16 Mar 2015

Following his documentary on the impact Napster and downloading had on the music industry, actor-turned-documenatary filmmaker Alex Winter changes focus to the rise of a new internet, one that lives in the shadows.

Exploring the decentralised, non-indexed deepnet, only available through anonymising software, Tor, Winter looks specifically at the black market bazaar Silk Road and the curious case of its founder, Ross Ulbricht.

A fascinating exploration into a world so many don’t even know exists, Deep Web is utterly captivating, not dumbing down the content yet making it accessible for a wider audience. With Ross recently found guilty of starting the illegal online marketplace, Silk Road, as well as being accused of several murders, the film highlights a injustice in the case amid a court apparently hell bent on finding a conviction at all costs. With a judge repeatedly blocking the defence’s motions to introduce documents including the FBI’s own reports as evidence, Deep Web tells story with a heavy slant on Ross’ side.

Deep Web is a brilliant film from Alex Winter, and while there are obvious injustices in the Silk Road case, Deep Web fails to examine both sides like a true documentary really should. We learn little of the FBI’s view of the case and Ross Ulbricht’s darker side which has been highlighted in other stories. Asking Winter’s Bill & Ted co-star, Reanu Reeves, to narrate is a total misstep as well.

All in all, Deep Web does pull through. Director Alex Winter does a great job of delving into the underworld of the internet and the intrica cies of the Silk Road case, it’s just a shame it’s not a more rounded view, as you can’t help but feel there’s another side to the case you’re not being told about.


FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

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