Influencer (2023) Movie Review – A reasonably compelling psychological thriller

A reasonably compelling psychological thriller


Influencer is the latest film from Spiral director Kurtis David Harder and like his previous picture, this is a thriller about the dark things somebody will do when they are intolerant of another.

The protagonists of Spiral were a same-sex couple who moved into a small town, only to find their neighbours were not exactly welcoming towards them. The protagonist of Influencer is Madison (Emily Tennant), a social media influencer who spends her days sharing videos and photos with the legion of Insta-obsessives who follow her online. Unfortunately, not everybody is tolerant of her social media lifestyle!

When we join Madison in the movie, she is in Thailand on a trip, but rather than taking the time to see the beauty of the country with her own eyes, she shoots much of it through the lens of her phone for the benefit of both her followers and her manager/boyfriend Ryan who backed out of the trip last minute.

Madison puts on a good show and pretends that she is enjoying life abroad. But when she puts her phone down, we see that she isn’t really that happy at all. Being alone in Thailand isn’t something this social butterfly can cope with, but when she meets CW (Cassandra Naud), a young woman at a local bar, she makes a new friend. Or does she?

CW makes it clear to Madison that she doesn’t like social media shortly after meeting her. She doesn’t understand Madison’s obsession with posting EVERYTHING online and challenges her on her motivations. She also lets Madison know that she doesn’t have a social media account and that she prefers to live life off the grid. CW’s life choices aren’t necessarily bad – they could even be considered good – but it does raise some red flags.

Why doesn’t CW have social media? Is it because she thinks it’s a waste of time? Many people would agree with her if so. Or is it because she doesn’t want people to learn of her real identity? The events that take place in the movie seem to suggest this might be the case.

We don’t get to find out much about CW’s backstory so it’s a little hard to relate to her. But what we do discover is this: CW is not to be trusted! After winning Madison’s trust, she whisks her off to a remote island and…well, we aren’t going to reveal the rest of the movie’s story here.

If you think you have worked out how the movie will play out after reading the beginning of our review, think again! Influencer is a decent thriller that has several twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting at all.

This isn’t to say it completely escapes the realms of predictability. Lots of movies have illustrated the dangers of social media obsession and the fake lives that people put on their screens so the overriding message of this movie is nothing new. But it’s the way writer/ director Harder tells his story that may surprise you.

Like the recent Barbarian, which quickly discarded one character who was assumed to be the main protagonist, Influencer also switches focus away from Madison to introduce us to a couple of other people who have landed in Thailand. Why? Well, we aren’t going to reveal that here as this review would become like a social media post from an Insta-addict that contains an overload of information you don’t necessarily want to read (in the case of this review, too many spoilers). So, we’ll stop talking about the movie’s plotting here.

Let’s talk about the beauty of Thailand instead. It really is an eye-poppingly beautiful country which cinematographer David Schuurman highlights perfectly. At times, you could be fooled into thinking you’re watching a travel show, albeit one with the occasional dastardly deed that you wouldn’t expect to see on a typical TV programme!

Let’s also talk about the performances of Emily Tennant and Cassandra Naud. They could have played their parts two-dimensionally with each actress focussing on the stereotypical traits of their characters. But instead, they portray their characters with depth and warmth, with Tennant injecting intelligence into what could have been a dumb blonde character and Naud showcasing a vulnerable side to CW instead of playing her like a maniacal villain.

The movie would have been halfway decent with performers less capable than these but thanks to their acting talents, it’s elevated to something better than one might expect from a movie that, on the surface at least, is yet another thriller with a mentally unstable woman as the antagonist.

But in the same way that social media influencers aren’t as perfect as they initially appear, this movie does have some flaws in the script department. While the twists that catch us off guard are good ones, there are parts of the storyline that don’t make much sense. It’s hard to talk about these in detail here without revealing more than we should but you can be forgiven if you scratch your head at certain points contemplating the hows and whys of certain plot turns.

Despite the occasional script issues, Influencer is a reasonably entertaining movie that is worth a watch if you’re able to stop scrolling through Facebook for 90 minutes or so. I’m not sure it’s a movie you will rave about afterwards to all of your online followers but it’s good enough to recommend to a friend when you put down your phone and have a face-to-face conversation with them!

Read More: Influencer Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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