15th Nov2021

VOD Vault: ‘The Influencer’ & ‘Bigfoot Hunters’ Review(s)

by Phil Wheat

Another week, another installment of VOD Vault – taking a look at some on-demand releases that have hit various VOD platforms recently. It’s been more than a few months since our last installment, so we’re diving straight into a handful of films that are all available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play now.

THE INFLUENCER

Stars: Kasia Szarek, Janeva Zentz, Shantell Yasmine Abeydeera, Victoria D. Wells, Ian Richard Jones, Thea Cantos | Written and Directed by Meghan Weinstein

Abbie Rose is a popular social-media influencer known for her lifestyle, fashion and makeup videos. One night she signs a coveted contract with Nutrocon, a notorious cosmetic company known to pollute, test on animals and treat female workers unfairly… Immediately, she’s taken down and tied up in her home by a group of masked activists. Overnight, they force Abbie through the filming of a video, advertising a mysterious new makeup kit and hacking her social media empire to carry out their plan – to discredit Nutrocon and expose influencer’s for the sell-outs they are.

Wow. Could a film be any more timely than The Influencer?

Starring real life influencer and comedian Kasia Szarek (A24’s Pleasure) as Abbie, with supporting cast led by Shantell Yasmine Abeydeera, star of the viral online series Girls Like Magic and CEO of OML.tv, The Influencer is definitely not what I expected. Whereas its billed as a home invasion thriller, the film totally diverts from that storyline and instead takes a critical view at the current state of online influencers – without galmourizing the lifestyle – the spike in consumerism and fast-fashion and the obsession with how we appear online, be it our true selves or the self we present as true. All wrapped up in a fun and funny comedy thriller that’s underpinned by a brilliant central performance from Kasia Szarek as the titular influencer who’s sick and tired of the lifestyle yet cannot give it up.

The Influencer is out now on VOD from Breaking Glass Pictures.

BIGFOOT HUNTERS

Stars: Brian Emond, Zach Lamplugh, Jeffrey Stephenson, Liam Nelson | Written by Zach Lamplugh, Brian Emond | Directed by Zach Lamplugh

Meet Brian Emond, a millennial clickbait reporter longing to work on serious news stories. Unfortunately for him and his producer Zach, their network has zero faith in them and sends them into the Appalachian Mountains in search of Bigfoot. Along for the ride is their guide, Jefferey, the only cryptozoologist to have encountered the legendary sasquatch in recent times. The three set-out into the wilderness with one goal: find Bigfoot.

Let’s get this out of the way first, for reasons unknown UK distributor Fractured Visions have decided to rename this film to the much more generic Bigfoot Hunters… Why is that an issue? Well the original title is 15 Things They Don’t Tell You About Bigfoot (#1 Will Blow Your Mind), a clear play on the clickbait nature of online news – something which is inherent to this films plot. After all the entire setup is a clear parody of Vice, Buzzfeed and co. Lampooning today’s internet media culture and the millennial dream of having a cool job working for a big brand – even if that job ends up being making ridiculous videos on silly subjects and creating listicle after listicle!

The generic UK title also masks a film that is MUCH more than just another bigfoot film. Whilst being a near-perfect pastiche of internet news Bigfoot Hunters is also a great parody of “lost in the woods” horror – but sticking clearly to the comedy side of the genre – led by a tremendously deadpan performance from stand-up comedian (who has actually been featured on Vice) Brian Emond, in front of the camera, and co-creator and director Zach Lamplugh behind the camera (Lamplugh directs the film AND plays Emond’s director IN the film too).

Together the pair have taken a bunch of tropes from horror, documentary and internet news and crafted a brilliantly satirical, brilliantly funny self-deprecating film that is probably the BEST bigfoot film no one will ever see. Which is a crying shame.

Bigfoot Hunters is out now on digital from Fractured Visions.

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