Influencer is a thriller drama film directed by Kurtis David Harder, featuring relatively unknown talents such as Emily Tennant, Cassandra Naud, Sara Canning, and Rory J. Saper. The film was released by the specialist horror platform Shudder in early May. Can this thematically titled film bring a fresh perspective to the genre?

Madison (Tennant), an influencer on vacation in Thailand, befriends a young girl named CW (Naud). When Madison’s hotel room is robbed, and her passport is lost, she’s stranded. CW, seemingly friendly, invites her to explore exotic tourist spots, leading them to a remote, deserted island. Unexpectedly, CW abandons Madison, assuming her identity and luxuriating in Madison’s lifestyle. As the plot thickens, CW employs the same method on another young influencer, Jessica (Canning), complicating matters when Madison’s boyfriend, Ryan (Saper), unexpectedly arrives.

While the premise may seem familiar—a group of tourists facing unexpected horror—what sets this film apart is the perpetrator’s motive. CW targets young influencer girls, whose lives revolve around social media. The narrative carries a veiled message, portraying CW, a beautiful but lonely girl with a facial birthmark, as the mastermind behind these heinous acts. The film raises questions about how many other young influencers might have fallen victim to similar schemes.

The plot maintains tension with numerous surprises along the way. The script skillfully leads the audience in one direction while subtly shifting the plot in another. These constant twists keep the story intense, sparking curiosity and maintaining engagement. The sudden shift in focus to CW elicits brief moments of sympathy from the audience, enhancing the overall suspense. By restricting information, the film creates a tense situation, with the audience privy to details that Jessica and Ryan are unaware of. The entire cast delivers impressive performances, immersing the audience in the precarious circumstances.

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Influencer emerges as an intense horror thriller drama with strong performances from its cast, accompanied by a powerful message about the impact of social media. The film, with its “modern” theme, effectively captures the sentiments of countless young people worldwide. The motive behind the story, centered on jealousy and the desire for a more “luxurious” or “classy” material life, particularly resonates with women. Despite its clear depiction, Influencer doesn’t lack impactful messages. It stands as one of the best films offering contemporary social criticism.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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