5 Terrifying Social Media Horror Movies

Social Media Horror Movies

Robert Mockler’s Like Me is a surreal “loner with a web page” meltdown starring Addison Timlin as the filmmaker’s millennial muse. It is, with title wordplay intended, very much a commentary on finding comfort in today’s technofied age and how civilization now measures happiness in status “likes” or hot-take “retweets.” As you might expect, some find this to be an unhealthy trend. Thus the Molotov cocktail that is Like Me was hurled with incendiary intent – quite a daring and flashy debut feature, I might add.

Mockler’s isn’t the first social media thriller to rock glazed-over audiences (and based on cinematic adaptations of appropriate social trends, it certainly won’t be the last). This inspired me to compile an accompanying list of movies so you can see how other filmmakers interpret the same thematic fears. From slashers to found footage to educational indies, there’s plenty worth an introspective wince as you witness how our new(ish) handheld habits exploit age-old insecurities. Let’s just try to make sure life doesn’t imitate this particular brand of art? Like, more than it already does.

The Den (2013)

Most people credit Unfriended with being the first feature to lock cinematography to a computer screen, but that’s only because they missed Zachary Donohue’s The Den. It’s not an unbroken Skype call so there’s differentiation in format, yet the aesthetic still only allows for tech camera points-of-view. One woman sets out to explore the dirty world of a Chatroulette knockoff and we watch as spectators on her laptop, mobile phone, whatever she can screenshare on. Better yet? It’s a nifty thriller with payoff and expansion that features bigger thinking than just home-invasion-brand torment.

Unfriended (2014)

Unfriended is the first well-known flick of its kind (see above) due in large part to Blumhouse’s distribution stamp. It’s pretty cut and dry – a high school clique’s Skype group call is haunted by their deceased classmate – but also freakishly effective given logical restraints. Real laptop programs and websites are accessed (Google/YouTube) so there’s handy realism, and scares deliver in-your-face tension (more than fuzzy connection jolts). It is, no doubt, better than most expected given a restricted viewpoint that screams “limitation.” You can thank the film’s vengeful take on after-posting remorse for that.

Tragedy Girls (2017)

Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls is probably the closest cousin to Like Me on this list. Two motormouth teen slasher obsessors (played tremendously by Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp) crave social media popularity, so they initiate certain crimes themselves just for the publicity. It’s hilarious. Colorful. So incredibly crazy for a slasher flick that it’s Scream redone for a new generation. No film has better utilized the times for genre content, and you ALL should see this movie.

Scare Campaign (2016)

I selfishly hope you’ve never heard of this one because I love introducing readers to surprise gems. In this case, the Aussies who sprouted 100 Bloody Acres (Cameron and Colin Cairnes) went ahead and flipped the YouTube/viral video generation on its head. A little bit Grave Encounters, a little bit Scare Tactics, the Cairnes’ blur backstage exposure to “reality” television with real guerilla filmmakers who don’t care about killing their victims – taking it a step farther than Like Me. Same idea, but goddamn, if its brutality doesn’t deliver.

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

IMDb may label Ingrid Goes West a “Comedy/Drama,” but in my mind, there hasn’t been a scarier social media thriller in the last few years. No need for pixelated poltergeists or haunted data streams. Aubrey Plaza plays a brainwashed girl who lives life through the Instagram postings of internet celebrities, mistaking smartphone screen interactions for real human bonds. Matt Spicer’s cautionary tale is not only a commentary on obsession, but exploits how social media algorithms prey on the easily addicted and just how dangerous this can be.

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Given the role of technology in most these films, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that none of my picks here dip past the ’00s. There are certainly other films out there about creatives with warped views on success or doing whatever it takes to “succeed,” but I wanted to focus on the whole “social media monster” aspect here as much as possible. The Den about false perceptions of online access and security, Unfriended about lasting digital fingerprints, Scare Campaign the lengths we’re willing to stretch for attention. Make no mistake about it, immediate validation and 24/7 access to everything is just a different kind of drug. These films all understand that in some way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to share this article on all my social media platforms so more people will read it – then catch-up on my emails, watch a quick video about someone’s domesticated fox who laughs like a human, and finally scroll through my Instagram feed because everyone else’s carefully curated lives are so much more interesting than my grey cubicle walls (or at least appear to be).

What? I never said I wasn’t part of the Like Me problem.

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