2018 • USA • 80 min.
Director: Michael J. Epstein & Sophia Cacciola
Screenwriter: Jeremy Long, Michael J. Epstein
Cast: Amanda Colby Stewart, Brandi Aguilar, Seth Chatfield
March 20, 2019 @ 9:45 pm
Three years after winning Best New England Film for Blood of The Tribades (2016) — and then moving to LA — Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein return to the Brattle and BUFF with their deftest, most fun film yet.
Clickbait is a tongue-in-cheek critique of influencer culture and a spiritual cousin to Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam. It is also a proper throwback that nails the popular its like now but a twinge more dystopian vibe while absolutely nailing the stylistic pace and palette of mid-90s Nickelodeon and MTV programming. Clickbait evokes Clueless or Scream as if they were Lifetime movies with all the tried & true tropes, a lot more blood, and just slightly less budget.
Someone seems to be stalking self-absorbed vlogger Bailey (Amanda Colby Stewart). She’s happy it just gets her more views while stereotypically studious roommate Emma (Brandi Augilar) senses they’re in obvious danger. Calling the police doesn’t seem to be very effective, especially when the police officer assigned to the case (a hilarious Seth Chatfield) constantly chides them for worrying about nothing if they haven’t been physically harmed. Clickbait points the finger at the female archetypes perpetuated by popular media—all while rolling its eyes and asking how could we have been this stupid for so long?
This “online personality gets a stalker story” may just be the perfect commentary for right now. The smartness of Clickbait’s satire is low key, yet undeniably effective even when dropping into on-the-nose allegory. (There may be a Trump mask. And a seemingly perpetual but very casual rose ceremony a la The Bachelorette.) There is nothing subtle about Clickbait — but the film always has something to say. And that’s exactly why Cacciola and Epstein’s fourth feature is an all-around Toot Strudel-ing great time.
Hashtag Perfect Life
Michael Paulucci, USA, 12 min.
Maddie Applegate is harassed online, at home, publicly shamed, and ostracized in her community. In a last ditch attempt to tell her side of the story, she goes on the T.V. show, Straight Talk with Todd Gacc in an attempt to clear her name. When Todd Gacc starts to dig further, the real reason for Maddie’s turmoil becomes apparent.