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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 3, 2023



WE ARE now living in the age of the online generation. And they are always online, even while eating, while watching a movie, or worse, even while hearing mass in church. 

This is also the age of influencer culture on the internet. A friend asks the boyfriend of her daughter what his job and his answer: “Influencer po.” 

Yes, more and more people earn a living by dancing on Tiktok or posting their selfie videos in the hope of being able to monetize them.

“Influencer” is a horror-thriller with a very intriguing opening scene. We see a drone shot of an isolated island in the distance and as the camera zooms in closer while the musical score becomes ominous, we figure out that there is someone lying on the beach, face down.

It is the motionless body of a woman and our curiosity is piqued as to how it ended up there on the shore.

We then meet a pretty blonde influencer, Madison (Emily Tennant of “Riverdale”), who’s staying in a luxury hotel resort.

In her online channel, she is seen backpacking around the world on her own. 

She’s currently in Thailand, annoyed that her boyfriend Ryan (Rory Saper) is supposed to be with her but backs out at the last minute.

She is having a drink in a bar by herself when an older British guy approaches her and tries to befriend her.

Another girl, CW (Cassandra Naud, who has a big birthmark on the right side of her face, that is real and not just prosthetic makeup), rescues her from the slimy guy. 

CW has been in Thailand for sometime and offers to take her around to some scenic spots. When they return to her hotel, Madison discovers that her room has been burglarized and her passport was stolen. 

It will take about two weeks before a new passport can be issued so CW suggests she stays on for a while. 

The next day, CW, using her own boat, takes Madison to a deserted island. 

She describes what will happen to anyone who gets marooned in the island and Madison has no inkling that it is exactly what CW intends to do to her.

When she wakes up on the beach the next day, CW is gone and it seems she’s not her first victim who’s been abandoned in the island.

CW then impersonates Madison online so that none of the followers of her vlog would notice that she is gone. 

She also moves on to her next target, Jessica (Sarah Canning), another influencer who, like Madison, is on vacation in Thailand all by herself.

Will she succeed in conning Jessica like she did with Madison? This is about as much as we’d sure so as not to spoil things for you. 

But things really get more complicated at this point, what with Madison’s boyfriend, Ryan, also turning up to look for her. 

CW gets away with murder as she says influencers are so disposable as no one really looks for them. 

If this is Director Kurtis David Harder’s way of commenting on prevalent influencer culture and to show how social media has ruined our sensibilities, we don’t think he is doing it effectively.

The story starts promisingly, but the way the narrative goes is quite predictable. 

This is not even a whodunit as the identity of the killer is something revealed right away. 

CW burns up the things Madison has left behind but she decides to keep her diary, so it’s easy to guess that it will prove to be her undoing. 

To begin with, CW is the lead character, so how will we root for her when she is clearly an evil pscyhopath and a cold blooded murderer who has no compunctions about killing people?  

Her character is so underwritten with no depth at all as she’s given so little by way of motivation.

Is she conning people to get back at them after being bullied for her unsightly birthmark? 

We don’t know.

We simply don’t have even an iota of sympathy for her, unlike with Matt Damon in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” who we also know is a murderer but for some perverse reason, we somehow don’t want him to get caught.

Another film similar to this is “Single White Female” with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The locations where they shot “Influencer” are absolutely spectacular, but key scenes are badly shot, like a climactic underwater fight scene where someone gets killed. 

It’s badly blocked and unconvincingly shot in an unimaginative way with poor lighting that leaves a lot to be desired. 

The ending is also not really satisfying. After all the evil things CW did, she deserves a more severe punishment.

But no doubt Naud gives a creditable portrayal of CW, from her menacing stares and the sinister way she manipulates her victims.