Saturday, January 17, 2015

My Review of Cyberbully

Written by Ben Chanan and David Lobatto
Directed by Ben Chanan

Hacker: "You're not the victim, Casey. You're the cyberbully."

When Channel 4 aren't airing some of their more barrel scraping documentaries or copious amounts of Come Dine With Me repeats, they do actually produce some great dramas and this one-off docu-drama is easily one of the best things they've done in a while.

Starring Game Of Thrones actress, Maisie Williams, this one-off special explored the realms of Cyberbullying in quite an authentic manner as teenage girl Casey started the evening plotting revenge with her friends on an ex-boyfriend but ended up getting one hell of a reality check when a mysterious hacker began a campaign of terror on the girl during the special.

What I really enjoyed about this whole movie was it's lack of preachiness. A lot of these types of movies have great intentions but sometimes become inadvertently patronising and when that happens, it somewhat dilutes the message that they're trying to convey. Cyberbully managed to avoid that trope, even though at times, there was an element of horror movie thrown into the mix to ramp up the tension.

I loved that the movie went from initially portraying Casey as a victim with the hacker threatening to upload plenty of intimate videos and pictures to her social media accounts to actually revealing that Casey herself was indirectly responsible for a young girl committing suicide over some of her more mean spirited anonymous comments.

As a movie, it was certain an eye opener and with many recent reports of younger people taking their lives over being systematically abused and humiliated online by peers, it was certainly on point as Casey went from trying to justify her behaviour to getting an insight into what Jenny Li must have felt.

However while the movie gave a good duality into Casey's online behaviour (and plenty of teenagers and people in general like her), it also highlighted the destructive side of certain people taking the vigilante approach and exacting justice as well.

We never knew if the hacker's whole helping victims of cyberbullying was actually sincere or more an excuse to target certain individuals in order to get their own thrills. Their own treatment of Casey went from trying to give her a glimpse into her former actions into something far more vindictive than some of Casey's own malicious online comments as well.

Another strength of the movie, along with a truly sterling performance from Williams herself and Haruka Abe as Jennifer Li was it's length. Having it last an hour and having the whole thing play out in real time added to the intensity of the whole idea and even I have to admit to being creeped out by Wilson Haagens performance as the unseen hacker as well.

As for the movie never revealing who the hacker was - I think that actually suited the whole point, didn't it? Oftentimes people who are terrorised online never know who the other person and while we could all guess who the person might have been (at one point, I thought it might have actually been one of Casey's friends), it was wise not to reveal the identity of the person that was terrorising Casey during this whole story.

A fantastic, creepy one-off drama that I think could be shown into school in order to help further educate teenagers on the dangers of social media and trolling as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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