Influencer (2023)

Influencer (2023)

A captivating central performance does its best to elevate this otherwise serviceable social media horror



Thailand, United States of America
Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Cassandra Naud, Emily Tennant, Justin Sams
92 min


A compelling lesson in stranger danger, if nothing else

What it's about

Instagram influencer Madison is on a miserable solo trip to Thailand when she strikes up a friendship with the suspiciously social media-averse CW, who offers to take her off the beaten track.

The take

As a growing number of horror movies are, Influencer is inspired by the fact that we’re increasingly spending our lives in the digital, rather than physical, world. Kurtis David Harder’s film makes some effort to highlight the tension between those two realms: its plot hinges on the idea that vapidly sunny influencer-speak often masks gloomier realities, and suggests that, if your existence is mainly validated through a screen, would anyone really know if something truly dark happened to you?

It’s an interesting premise, to be sure, but Influencer’s critique settles there. Instead of striving for social thriller status by exploring the paradox of social media with any real rigor, the rather broad writing here means it lands as a run-of-the-mill scary movie, one that verges on being a forgettable experience once the credits have rolled. One element saves it from that fate, though: Cassandra Naud, who gives an unnerving performance that brings intriguing psychological depths to the role of CW, the film’s villain. She can only do so much to elevate a script that is shallowly interested in her character, though, meaning Influencer can’t quite transcend its status as a middling social media horror.

What stands out

Thank goodness for Influencer’s Psycho-style perspective shift from victim to villain, because Naud is by far the film’s greatest asset. We’re never quite sure why CW does what she does — but rather than struggle to fill this hole in the script, Naud gives a layered, assured performance that makes an intriguing mystery out of it. Though she’s ultimately underserved by the filmmaking, Influencer marks a compelling breakout moment for her as an actor more than capable of carrying an entire film on her back. Here’s hoping opportunities that better match her talent are on the horizon.


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