Monday 6 September 2021

Dark Film Review: The Influencer

Dark Film Review: The Influencer

Review by Casey Douglass

The Influencer

Social media is the amplifier of our time. Whatever you bring to it, it boosts it and shoots it out to other people who think like you do, while its algorithms feed similar themes from others, back to you. Certain people become very well known, gaining a massive following that businesses with bundles of cash eye greedily as an untapped revenue stream. The Influencer is a dark comedy thriller that follows one such popular person as they grapple with their “brand”, the lucrative contract that comes their way, and the forces that want to use them as a pawn in their own machinations.

The Influencer

Abbie Rose (Kasia Szarek) is a fashion, makeup and lifestyle vlogger, trying to manage her business and her brand. Nutrocon, an exploitative cosmetic company that treats women badly, tests on animals and pollutes the environment, offers her a tasty contract, one which promises to ease her money worries. Abbie signs and a short time later finds herself suffering a home invasion by bickering masked activists. What then unfolds is a manipulative scheme, one with Abbie as the key component, the activists making use of her large following, her image and the power of technology, to try to pull off their aims.

As a thriller, The Influencer does present the viewer with a number of mysteries to ponder, and I felt that it did a decent job of answering these questions as the story ticked along. I did successfully guess what was happening a number of times, but there were certainly moments that I didn’t see coming. One of these happened almost at the ending, where the actions of one of the characters did cause me to reappraise my opinion about them, which was a pleasing and satisfying surprise.

The Influencer

When a film sees its characters make use of technology or the internet, how these actions are portrayed becomes very important if the viewer has any hope of following along. Thankfully, The Influencer does a really good job of mimicking and representing the social-media apps and websites integral to the story, a smooth, clear user-interface sitting comfortably over the live action beneath. Another aspect that I really enjoyed was Thomas Yount’s electronic, retro-feeling score. It felt like just the right kind of soundtrack, both warm and bouncy yet dark and ominous too.

There is humour in The Influencer, but I have to admit that most of it wasn’t really to my own taste. The element that I found most humorous were the jokes that poked fun at the frequent shallowness of social media, particularly the scenes where Abbie’s captives threatened to release her private, “badly lit” pictures to the world if she didn’t play ball. This sees Abbie crumple to the ground in tears, fearing for her image and her brand, something that Kasia Szarek plays wonderfully. There is also a scene early in the film, where a group of dead-eyed interns fail to be roused by Abbie’s enthusiasm, which did tickle me.

The Influencer

The Influencer is a quirky look at the dark side of how some influencers can behave when large financial enticements become a factor in their lives. Sure, it takes things to extremes, but how often do we see someone raving about the latest video-game, headphones or fashion accessory, and then never mention it again? One of the most poignant quotes from the film for me was “It’s crazy the kind of influence you have when no-one knows who you are!” I’d guess that extends to the influencer in question not knowing themselves properly either, which just goes to show how complicated us humans can be.

Look out for The Influencer from 14 September on streaming platforms including iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. It will also be available on DVD and through various cable and satellite TV services.

I was given access to a review copy of this film.

Film Title: The Influencer

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller

Production Company: Daisy Eagle Films, Wizard Cats

Distributor: Breaking Glass Pictures

Written, directed and produced by: Meghan Weinstein

Releases: 14 September 2021

Starring: Kasia Szarek, Shantelle Yasmine Abeydeera, Thea Cantos, Mark Valeriano, Victoria D. Wells, Ian Jones.

Music: Thomas Yount