Influencer overview: a cutthroat social thriller

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“Cassandra Naud steals the present in Influencer, the brand new sharply centered, lethal enjoyable thriller from director Kurtis David Tougher.”

Professionals

  • Cassandra Naud’s star-making lead efficiency
  • A subversive, unpredictable screenplay
  • A stunning, game-changing first-act twist

Cons

  • A 3rd-act that will get a bit too twisty for its personal good
  • An underdeveloped romantic subplot

Influencer isn’t what you suppose it’s. The brand new Shudder unique from director and co-writer Kurtis David Tougher is a cutthroat, contained thriller that takes the perverse slasher method of a Brian De Palma traditional like Dressed to Kill and updates it for our present social media age. The result’s a movie that’s each bit as crude and mean-spirited as its influences, however much more curiously structured and sharply centered than its all-too-familiar, trip-abroad-gone-wrong premise might lead you to imagine.

Anchored by one mesmerizing, doubtlessly star-making efficiency, Influencer might not make very many new factors concerning the unstated artificiality of a social media star’s life, however it does constantly subvert its viewers’ expectations in methods which can be usually thrilling to witness. What’s much more spectacular is how the movie’s varied twists and sudden left turns — of which there are numerous — are introduced. Influencer’s story doesn’t a lot speed up or ramp up because it progressively unfolds.

Over the course of its 91-minute runtime, the movie slowly however absolutely submerges viewers deeper and deeper beneath its layers of deception, impersonation, and, in fact, homicide. It doesn’t come as a lot of a shock then when the movie’s third act options an underwater brawl that appears like an inevitable beat for a thriller that’s as murky and harmful as Influencer.

Emily Tennant stands in a doorway in Influencer.
Shudder

Whereas the movie leaves the precise identification of its eponymous “influencer” as much as interpretation, its plot, for all intents and functions, revolves round Madison (Emily Tennant), a profitable however lonely social media star. When Influencer begins, Madison is within the midst of an unfulfilling, remoted journey to Thailand that she was satisfied to take by her bold, social media-obsessed boyfriend, Ryan (Rory J. Saper). Her journey seemingly takes a flip for the higher when she crosses paths one night time with CW (Cassandra Naud), a mysterious lady who presents to point out her some alternate options to the vacationer lure spots which have consumed most of her journey.

It shouldn’t be thought of a spoiler to say that CW’s curiosity in Madison isn’t practically as pure as she makes it out to be. To say rather more about the place Influencer goes from there would, nonetheless, spoil among the best elements of the thriller, which mines most of its leisure worth out of its unpredictable story and construction. At first, Influencer might not appear all that unconventional or daring, however that each one begins to alter as soon as its credit lastly roll across the movie’s 26-minute mark.

An sudden first-act flip pushes you headfirst into the movie’s twist-laden center part, which grows more and more complicated, convoluted, and lethal the additional into its personal internet of lies Influencer will get. By the point Saper’s Ryan reveals up in Thailand seeking to patch issues up with Madison, the movie’s script by Tougher and Tesh Guttikonda has already arrange loads of potentialities for bloodshed. Whereas Influencer positively isn’t afraid to confront the violence brimming beneath the floor of its story, the movie often arrives at its bodily confrontations in methods which can be both stunning, tragic, or an acid-tinged mixture of each.

Cassandra Naud looks at a phone screen in Influencer.
Shudder

On the middle of all the movie’s twists is Naud’s CW, who performs a extra lively function in Influencer’s story than any of its different characters. With the burden of that duty on her shoulders, Naud turns in a beguiling, scene-stealing efficiency as CW, a personality whose unpredictability injects Influencer with a much-needed dose of hazard. Tougher, for his half, correctly lets a number of key moments in Influencer play out fully on Naud’s face. The actress, in flip, makes watching CW impulsively react to sure stunning developments simply as entertaining as watching her perform one in every of her rigorously calibrated plans.

Whether or not or not Naud will get the prospect to tackle extra lead roles sooner or later will seemingly depend upon how a lot consideration Influencer will get, however the actress definitely proves herself able to dealing with even probably the most ambiguous of characters right here. Her efficiency enhances each the temper and murkiness on the middle of Influencer’s Russian doll-esque narrative, which helps make up for the truth that the movie doesn’t take its concepts concerning the falseness of 1’s on-line identification so far as it might.

Tougher and Guttikonda do pack in a number of reducing jabs on the methods through which an individual’s on-line following can each inflate their ego and assist them keep away from the loneliness of life. Nonetheless, Influencer doesn’t in the end have all that a lot to say concerning the toxicity of those that can’t flip their telephones off or those that resent them for his or her on-line addictions. That’s made evident by the movie’s twisty third act, which is, very like the remainder of Influencer, genuinely stunning, but additionally a bit too tidy and cute for its personal good.

Emily Tennant takes a selfie near a pool in Influencer.
Shudder

What Influencer lacks in thematic depth it greater than makes up for in pure leisure worth. The movie is a stunning, delightfully subversive thriller that’s finest seen with as little prior data about its plot as doable. There’s extra happening in it than there initially seems, which is becoming for a movie that’s solely involved in what might lurk simply past the sides of every of its characters’ rigorously cropped Instagram posts.

Influencer is now out there to stream solely on Shudder.

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