Starring: Colby Stewart, Brandi Aguilar, Seth Chatfield, Ryan James Hilt, Cedric Jonathan, Makeda Kumasi, Jannica Olin
Written by: Jeremy Long, Michael J. Epstein
Directed by: Sophia Cacciola, Michael J. Epstein
Maybe when Laura is dead, you can get that streak started again.
Have we gone too far in our thirst for internet fandom and the desire to create viral videos? That’s the question central to Clickbait (2019), the horror satire about a college student named Bailey (Colby Stewart) who will do anything to be at the top of the viral video website Str33ker. She and her roommate/best friend Emma (Brandi Aguilar) are trying to survive college, but more important to Bailey is getting back to her #1 position on Str33ker. Standing in the way, of course, is that bitch Laura (Jannica Olin) who is dying of cancer and chronicling her journey.
As Bailey is searching for a way to take back her throne from Laura, it appears that she has a stalker fan who is, strangely enough, helping her trend back up again. Emma is concerned as their house is broken into, she is attacked, and Bailey’s (very sexy, she would insist) panties end up all over the house. Soon, Bailey is kidnapped. It’s up to Emma to find the spot where the kidnapper is Live Str33king over the interwebs.
For a movie that has such promise, it was a chore to get through. The movie starts out strong as we hear Laura’s voice telling us about how she doesn’t think she has much time left due to the cancer. We see Bailey’s tear-filled face. It seems dramatic until Bailey shares her opinion about Laura becoming the top Str33ker (she’s probably faking it anyway). However, the film’s plot and humor go downhill from there. I’m having more fun writing the plot summary than I did getting through the movie.
A lot of the scenes go way too long and completely lost my interest. There’s a Halloween party where we see various party goings-on. It was more like a lame party you get stuck at than watching people humorously make fools out of themselves. There are dream murder sequences that are monotonous and repetitive and could have been about 53 days shorter than they were.
The message of the film is thought-provoking, sure, but this was a pitiful attempt to make social commentary. There are several scenes where different people we meet throughout the movie make their own viral videos that usually have to do with the main sponsor of Str33ker: Toot Strudel. These scenes were a nightmare.
Toot Strudels are toaster strudels that are self-heated by radioactive energy. We see one Str33ker seductively stuff one into her mouth. Another shares how it helps him poop. Another takes a fake cadaver on a date with the strudels. These scenes were so painfully unfunny that it made Rebecca Black’s Friday music video tolerable. Am I missing the joke that makes radioactive pop tarts funny? You can only say “poop” so many times before you start sounding like you have the humor range a 12-year-old boy.
In addition to painful, unfunny scenes was the painful, unfunny acting. Aguilar was shrill, her lines felt rehearsed, and her facial expressions were stiff. Chatfield’s police officer felt like an awkward dad who got a minor role at a small-town theater. Stewart was far and away the best actor of the bunch. By the end of the film, even she couldn’t save it. It almost seemed as if the story and the rest of the cast brought her back down to lethargically deliver her lines (that were still better delivered than just about everyone else).
The film was an overall mess. Like I mentioned before, the dream sequences and the strudel commercials were unwelcome invasions to an already unenjoyable story. There were two or three scenes where Emma and Bailey discuss how intellectual Bailey actually is. She feels that people want her to be a dumb blonde that they all follow on Str33ker. This plot point felt injected into the story in an attempt to add depth to the character that ultimately felt out of place and was abandoned by the end of the movie.
Additionally, there were some rough scene transitions. The camera would randomly fade before jarring you over to another stupid strudel commercial. The audio wouldn’t pick up the dialogue between characters until the scene was about 10 seconds in.
All in all, Clickbait felt like a half-assed attempt at critiquing our cultural phenomenon that is viral videos. Unlike most viral videos, this movie is better off left forgotten in a deep, dark place somewhere never to be dredged up again.