On the outside looking in, I felt confident that I knew what to expect from Influencer. Directed by the capable hands of Kurtis David Harder, with a script he co-wrote alongside Tesh Guttikonda, Influencer struck me as another of the Shudder streaming services’ more modest, but solid horror offerings.
That isn’t meant as a knock, but, rather, how I adjusted my expectations and prepared myself for what I was signing up for. For the most part, I really like Shudder and I consider myself mostly satisfied with the context they put out. The strongest works I can think of, off the top of my head, being Unlucky, The Boy Behind the Door, and Spiral, respectively. As fate would have it, the director of this film also just so happened to have directed Spiral, hence why I said this film was made by his ‘capable’ hands.
The most significant comparison I made to this film, and the one I think holds the strongest, is Shudder’s film Shook. Both film’s content and subject matter parallel in numerous ways, offering a twisty, fun handling of social media influencers and the culture it evokes (compared to a film like Spree, which was a found-footage horror with a more harsh, almost American Psycho-esque approach).
Influencer follows a social influencer named Madison who has been staying at a luxury hotel in Thailand. Her life seems perfect for all intents and purposes, but when the camera is off, we are let in on the deeper emptiness she feels, brought on largely by her boyfriend not accompanying her to the resort. She befriends a young woman named CW and, from there, the horrors of our story truly start to unfold. The description for Shudder reads that “CW’s interest in Madison takes a darker turn.”, thus, I wouldn’t consider it a spoiler to say she is largely the main-antagonist of the film.
Although, by closing, I wasn’t left with a whole lot to say about Influencer overall, it is an enjoyable, and, even, solid film. That is my closing summation I have for it. The story itself doesn’t have anything particularly profound or original to say about social media or the influencers who bank off of it, other than reasserting the phoniness of it all, which is more fitting as the foundation of any real commentary than it is the single thought.
The film is nicely shot and aesthetical appeasing, carrying an efficient production-value that may or may not seem a little rudimentary to single out, but whose absence would be sorely missed were the film to be without it.
The acting is decent throughout, with Cassandra Naud receiving the most screen time and doing what she can with it. None of the characters have a whole lot of depth or substance to work with, and so it really comes down to the basics of memorizing your lines and making it seem like you’re not reciting them from memory. Everyone pretty much does. The characters are decent as well, with the biggest ailment being that none of them are propped up or developed enough to be invested into them.
The film feels a little like a busybody in how it is conducted. Although it is contained in a brisk, concise 92 minutes, I can’t help but feel like it had one too many subplots packed snugly inside itself. I believe this could have been a film solely about the relationship between Madison and CW, with little else in-between, and yet, that isn’t even the main course of the film.
The film’s main course is, effectively, CW and everybody else, and, while fine, means you find yourself a main conflict without a strong combatant.
Likewise, too, they make the boyfriend seem unlikable, yet try to elevate his role to someplace where he’d be expected to be likable, and he isn’t.
It is neither a scary film nor a gory film, nor is it a lot of other things, rather it is a more-mechanized, old-school helping of terror. It isn’t a whodunnit, but it stills right at home with something you would dust off from the bookshelf and read. It calls for you to enjoy the ride, and I think it does appropriately well at that.
Influencer is a film I would recommend, but I would keep expectations reasonably in-check. It has some neat ideas, but it doesn’t explore them beyond a surface-level. I would have been on-board with certain threads being strung along further, as I was genuinely curious where they could lead, but the film simply had different aspirations. Taken for what it is, it’s a decent film and I don’t walk away with a whole lot of criticisms, only what-if’s and wish-it’s.
Rating: – 3.0 out of 5.0