Clickbait (2019) [Women in Horror Month 2019]

After reaching new heights in her internet fame, a college student looking for more is kidnapped and her roommate is once again reluctantly roped into helping as she seems to be the only one available.

Directed by Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein with the latter also writing with Jeremy Long, Clickbait is a fun satire of social media fame, pop culture, and the dangers of being fame-hungry. The writing is witty and definitely has plenty of dark humor throughout, keeping things fresh and fun. The direction gives the film life and a good pace along with the editing by Epstein. The general feel of the film shows how tight knight the team behind it is, having a single vision that is brought to the screen basically flawlessly. Together this team creates a film that is both fun and a commentary on society’s current obsession with social media and fame at a high cost. The film sense of humor is very much its own and so is its style, including the strategically placed ads for Toot Strudels, the best fake product you could ever want on film and present in the actual story here and there. The filmmakers show with this and the rest of the film that they are very well aware of how the world currently works and how they are themselves a part of it as being part of the entertainment industry. Their take does give them a bit more depth in that they are self-aware but don’t make it the sole focus of the film or let it distract from the story itself.

The lead cast for Clickbait is strong with Colby Stewart as Bailey and Brandi Aguilar as Emma giving the lead besties a chemistry that is fun to watch and a dichotomy that helps the film work. The two of them gives great performances and they sense of timing is just about everything here. They both can say some of the craziest stuff with a completely straight face and sell the viewer on whatever may be going on in the film at any point. Their work is pretty fantastic and makes the film fun to watch and go by really fast. Playing the bumbling Detective Frank Dobson is Seth Chatfield who gives a performance that is logically and appropriately grating at times. His character is one that feels off but that’s how he needs to be for the film and for everything to make sense. Here his work is what needs to be and it adds to the story and the proceedings. The rest of cast is composed of a lot of familiar faces to those watching a lot of indie horror films made in Los Angeles with director Sophia Cacciola making an appearance as well as Michael J. Epstein, Izzy Lee, etc.

As is often the case with smaller productions such as this, the behind the scenes crew is pulling multiple duties with Michael J. Epstein serving as editor, part of the music team with Cacciola, etc, Cacciola, who also did the production design, did some of the cinematography and a lot of other duties. The assistant director on this is the aforementioned Izzy Lee who took care of classroom and party scenes, blending her style flawlessly with Cacciola’s. This film is a perfect example of a small production pulling all the people they know and all the talent they have access to in order to pull off a great production.

Clickbait is a fun take on social media, fame, and what best friends are ready to do for each other when the moment comes, giving satire, dark humor, and style to a story that is fun and keeps the viewer on their toes throughout the film.