With the rise of social media, we have never been so connected. Posting our lives away, we favor virtual worlds and altered perceptions over the reality that surrounds us. Pandora’s Box is now open, and anyone can become famous with enough followers. As Jill in Scream 4 put it, “We all live in public now; we’re all on the internet. How do you think people become famous anymore? You don’t have to achieve anything! You just got to have fucked up shit happen to you.”
As superficial influencers and narcissistic social media queens become idolized, many of them throw away all sense of responsibility. While reveling in the admiration received through electronic devices, their actions sometimes have unseen, unintended consequences. This is what one social media celeb discovers in The After Party (read our WIHFF review here), the latest enticing short from actress Rachel Amanda Bryant and filmmaker Colin Costello (Committed).
Reflecting everything about this alluring 18 minute short, The After Party opens with a fantastic cinematic effect. As the picture turns from an upside down angle to right side up, Skye (Bryant: Jet Set L.A. – read our review here) elegantly walks down an alley coming across a car crash. The social media queen seems more excited than alarmed. Rather than dial 911, Skye displays her shallow self-centeredness by taking to social media, telling her fans while smiling, “OMG, Skye fans! You never know what you’re going to see on a night out!” And, with the attention span of Facebook, Skye notices the sign of a small bougie night club. Curiosity piqued and the car crash victim forgotten, this egocentric personality stops off for one last drink before her night comes to an end. However, when Skye meets four mysterious women, her night is turned upside down.
Enhancing a mysterious vibe that screams of the classic, refined taste of the ’50s, The After Party displays black and white cinematography, which is perfect for this noir-esque tale. This element compliments the influence from The Shining (1980 – read our retro review here), which immediately shows through when Skye takes a seat at the bar and orders a drink from a bartender she calls Lloyd (Aaron Gaffey: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series). Gaffey gives a phenomenal performance fully embracing his inner-Joe Turkel (The Shining 1980). However, he is not the only outstanding individual to grace the screen.
When Skye suddenly realizes she is not the only patron of this establishment, she approaches four women engaged in a game of billiards. These standoffish personalities seem to make Skye feel like an outsider, something that’s clearly foreign to her. These cold personas are Hilary Barraford (Life Like) as Lizzy, Denise Milfort (Roots 2016) as Madison, Ashley Platz (Glow series) as Raven and Veronica Sixtos (Polyester) as Chloe. Each of these women gives an equally strong performance, bringing something slightly different to their characters with a commonality that bonds them together. And, although his character appears just a few times, Tarnue Massaquoi (Terminator: Dark Fate – read our review here) is a foreboding force on screen that does not go unnoticed.
Leading the cast, Bryant radiates a snooty, superficial personality, the type of public persona celebrity-obsessed fans love, while others wish karma would slap for being so shallow, vain, and obnoxiously fake. And based on my limited interaction with Ms. Bryant (read our interview here), this couldn’t be further from who she actually is. So, my hat goes off to this talent in the industry.
As someone who sees film as art, I absolutely love when a piece of cinema actually has something to say. Of course, I love standard popcorn flicks as well. But a film that holds depth and meaning is something worth holding in high regard. Costello accomplishes this 10 fold as the writer/director of this dramatic horror that couldn’t be more relevant in today’s social media-obsessed world. The After Party is social criticism at its finest; one chilling tale that you won’t soon forget. Having gone live on November 2nd, this must-see short is now available for free by clicking below. Enjoy!