5 Apr 2022
Justin Anthony, Julie Bruns, Avi Glanzer, Reilly Lievers, Annabel Maclean, Emily Weldon
Annabel Maclean, Justin Anthony
An economical short film that captures our morbid fascination with social media horror stories. It is hard to look away as Rose, an influencer, is alerted by her online followers that the necklace her boyfriend Josh got her for Christmas might not be as great a gift as she believes.
The film takes place as one scene, shot from a static position imitating a livestream with the right-hand third of the screen occupied by a comments bar, a la Facebook live. These constrictions make the scenario taking place in Josh’s kitchen lack dynamism leading to it feeling stagey and even, at times, ropey. Despite this, the decision to lock the camera on the left-hand side of the screen feels justified as the art of Influenced is in the dialogue between the live performance and the comments section. Focus flits from left to right and back again with the stream of messages from followers alerting Rose to potential danger and informing her actions. The effective way in which the two sides of the screen mediate the tension and the pacing make for a taut and satisfying thriller.
Whilst Influenced may not offer any new insight into the world of social media it does skim the surface of several important conversations that need to be had. It touches on the supposed safety granted by livestreaming during a dangerous incident, as though witnesses on the internet will prevent harm. Furthermore, it raises questions about the relationship between an influencer and their followers. And you only need to look as far as the popular Netflix docuseries Don’t F**k with Cats to see real-life Facebook vigilantes and the pros and cons of self-righteous cyber sleuths.
Influenced taps into the murky voyeurism of social media. It replicates the dangerously addictive bite-sized chunks of real-life drama shared online that everyone secretly gorges on. A deliciously pulpy, and moreish snack.