BUFF 2019: CLICKBAIT Explores the Millennial Obsession with Internet Fame
“Not all millennials”, am I right?
But seriously, there are tons of folks in both the millennial generation and the yet unnamed post-millennial group that seem to believe how many followers you have on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and whatever other social media platforms are popular these days is the be-all end-all of life. Of course, I’m not saying this is the case for the entire generation, but it seems more and more common.
Horror and exploitation films about social media and the social media generation have begun springing up over the last few years… Tragedy Girls, Like Me, Assassination Nation, Unfriended, Searching, Ingrid Goes West, and of course a host of lesser known and lower budget examples. In fact, my favorite recent film in this trend, Framed, is far less mainstream, but recently got picked up by Netflix, who will also produce the sequel. While these films all vary in tones from the gory live stream slasher (Framed) to the trashy neo-exploitation (Assassination Nation) to the biting social satire (Tragedy Girls), all of them share the desire to challenge the worldviews and ethics around various forms of social media in our world today. Clickbait also lives to serve this purpose, despite having a different approach than some of the others.
Clickbait could be described bet as a low budget black comedy. While sometimes the humor is pitch black, it doesn’t ever necessarily go straight into being a full fledge horror film. With this in mind, calling it horror wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, though. To me, horror casts a wide net… black comedy, horror comedy, satirical horror, it still belongs in the genre. The film takes a satirical approach, presenting a protagonist so obsessed with getting hits on a streaming video site that she doesn’t call the police when a stalker begins streaming himself on her channel. His videos show him following her and sniffing her panties, but they are getting her back on top after losing the coveted #1 spot and she’d hate to put that at risk by reporting the stalker to the police.
Eventually, she does get the police involved and things escalate. All the while, her popularity is still her top concern. The absurdity of her priorities is where the primary satire and commentary come into play. The film definitely brings about a few good laughs and some cringe-worthy horror moments. While the execution does suffer at times, likely due primarily to budgetary constraints, the film shows great promise from the filmmakers and excited me for what they have in store next. With a bit of a script tuneup and a stronger cast, this could have been truly great. However, as it stands, it’s still a pretty enjoyable film that does many things right.
The Donald Trump mask worn by the stalker is fantastic, even if a bit on the nose. The repeating nightmare sequence that pops up several times in the film crams enough horror homage in it to ensure no horror fan can deny that these filmmakers are real fans, too. The practical effects are fun, especially in the final sequence.
Fans of low budget fare, indie horror, and fun satirical films will find something here that they can truly enjoy.
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