Opening with a shot of a stunning island, we are distracted from the beauty by a dead body floating in the sea. Who is it and what happened are natural questions that we instantly ask. The film goes back to introduce us to a young woman named Jessica (Sara Canning), a social media influencer and product promoter currently spending her time travelling to various destinations. Now travelling around Thailand alone as her boyfriend, Ryan (Rory J Saper), pulled out of the trip at the last minute, Jessica is evidently missing company and human connection. Despite this, she keeps working and reminding herself that the universe has much to offer.
One evening while sitting alone at the hotel bar, Jessica is approached by a strange man who attempts to flirt with her. Thankfully, another woman, CW (Cassandra Naud), is sitting nearby. CW interrupts and rescues Jessica from a highly awkward situation. Jessica and CW develop a new friendship, and the two spend time together having new adventures. However, strange things occur, including someone breaking into Jessica’s hotel room and stealing her passport. Forced to stay around a little longer, Jessica continues to remain positive. After all, what could go wrong with CW by her side helping her get back home? Unfortunately, it turns out that CW has quite dark and unexpected motivations.
Influencer is best described as a thriller that is filled with many twists and turns. As a thriller, the twists and surprises are pretty unpredictable. It is also the kind of film where the less you know going into it, the more rewarding and impacting the film becomes (hence why my plot outline has been kept somewhat vague). At the film’s end, it felt like some elements should have been obvious, yet this film surprised me multiple times.
Along with being a fun thriller, the film also introduces many aspects of social media that are relatable and possibly alarming. How easy is it for someone to take your identity? Or, despite being an influencer, how badly missed would that person be if they were to disappear? Some moments relating to technology generally had me questioning what is possible, and it honestly wouldn’t surprise me today if it were. The film also makes you wonder how real or fake the people you follow on social media are.
Considering the film has a small cast, they carry the entire movie wonderfully, particularly Sara Canning as CW. Canning is tremendous and easily the film’s biggest highlight. I enjoyed seeing her character be so ruthless and uncaring one moment, then suddenly flicking the switch and transforming into an outrageously loud fan of a social media influencer. CW’s character also changes at various points to cover her lies or trick those around her, leading them into a dangerous trap that could cost them their life. Because of this, the film becomes a cat-and-mouse tale where the audience continually questions if CW will get away with all her cleverness and harshness. Visuals are strong here, and I loved the setting of this film which is a high-end luxury resort and a beautiful island. There were great long shots, which amazed me.
Overall, this is a fun cat-and-mouse thriller with many surprising twists and turns right from the first act. With such a fun introduction and story outline in the first act, it is impossible not to be hooked, invested, and curious about how this storyline will play out. I’m also proud to say how well the small cast carried this film. Sara Canning as CW is easily the film’s biggest highlight, and the actress shines wonderfully, playing a character capable of deception, cruelty, fun, and playfulness. The location, too, is excellent. Everything here is thrilling, fun and deeply brainless.
Influencer (2023) is Streaming Exclusively on Shudder and AMC+ from May 26th!