I’ve been seeing praise for the indie horror comedy, Clickbait, for awhile now. I initially missed the award-winning pop culture satire, directed by Michael J. Epstein (The Obliteration of Chickens 2019 – read our review here) and Sophia Cacciola (Blood of the Tribades 2016 – read our review here), from a screenplay by Epstein and Jeremy Long (Retired Cupid 2018). When the film came to my neck of the woods for the Arizona Underground Film Festival last year, I missed it, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. After catching the powerhouse couple’s segment, Pride, in the upcoming extreme horror anthology, 7 Sins (read our review here), I knew I had to track this movie down and watch it immediately. Thankfully, the duo behind production company Launch Over were happy to oblige. Let me just say that the film did not disappoint.
All young, 20-something college student, Bailey (Amanda Colby Stewart: Take Two TV series), wants in the world is to be a celebrity. “I’m famous,” she says to her roommate, Emma (Brandi Aguilar: General Hospital TV series), to which Emma replies, “You’re internet famous.” However, Laura (Jannica Olin: People Magazine Investigates TV series), a young woman dying of cancer, has upended Bailey’s reign as the Queen of Str33ker, a social media platform where users upload short videos called flashes, which are then rated and ranked. Suddenly, users are paying more attention to Laura, leaving Bailey lower in the Str33ker ranks, who’s beginning to think that nothing matters anymore. One night after a party while praying before bed to wake up hangover-free, Bailey requests, “Please give me the confidence of a mediocre white man so I can be as brazen as I like.”
Thus begins Bailey’s journey to reclaiming her throne, and once again being the talk of the internet. Unfortunately, it’s not her doing. Someone has been uploading videos on Bailey’s Str33ker account, but it hasn’t been Bailey. Intimate shots of her sleeping, watching through Emma’s window, and even going through Bailey’s underwear drawer while they were both out are just a few of the strange things that show up on the video platform. It isn’t long before the numbers and views are increasing, and Emma’s sanity is decreasing. The girls, along with the help of Detective Dobson (whom I lovingly call Deputy Dipshit, played by Blood Of The Tribades‘ Seth Chatfield), try to solve the mystery on their own.
I don’t want to give too much away of the Clickbait plot. The climax is satisfying, the buildup is intense, and there’s a twist that I didn’t see coming. The film is beautifully shot, thanks Matt Stuertz (Sixty Second Slasher series) and Paul Zurcher (Astro 2018 – read our review here), and the music… I was so impressed. I even spoke with Michael J. Epstein just to confirm. With the exception of one song, all of the score and songs are original music written by the filmmakers, along with their friend Catherine Capozzi (Magnetic 2015). It is just fantastic. That’s not where these filmmakers’ creativity ends. Intertwined with the story of Bailey’s popularity decline are fake commercials for a new brand of toaster pastry, Toot Strudel. There’s a froot in every toot!
The filmmakers really need to be applauded for their astounding attention to detail and for making significant strides to make their own film unique. They are perfecting their individual style, and it is apparent in all of their projects. Michael and Sophia are helping to re-invent arthouse satire, and I am eager to see more. They are a part of the new wave of elevated indie horror that you just can’t pigeonhole. It’s exciting. I highly recommend checking out Clickbait while it’s in its festival run, and be sure to visit the faux website, str33ker.com, for a companion to the film. Thank you, to Michael and Sophia.