We can review a multitude of horror films and talk about the fright factor of each one, but to me, the harm done by other humans is more frightening than the scariest Freddy Krueger film. Can social media be used as a weapon to kill? Find out with my review of Clickbait.
I kept hearing about Clickbait but had no interest to watch it until I recently got my Pfizer Booster Shot. I was feeling kind of achy and tired on the second day, so I decided to stay on the recliner and binge watch a few Netflix series. I am so glad that I chose Clickbait, which is an American-Australian drama that was created by Tony Ayres and Christian White. The limited 8-episode series stars Zoe Kazan, Betty Gabriel, Phoenix Rael, Abraham Lim, Adrian Grenier, and Jessie Collins.
Clickbait: noun (on the internet) whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click to a particular web page. Clickbait is designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink even if the content is of dubious value.
The film explores the ways that dangerous and misleading information is passed along on social media, and the mindset of the people who post such damaging information. The film begins with Pia Brewer (Zoe Kazan) seeing a post on social media. It is a video of her brother, Nick Brewer (Adrian Grenier) being held captive. He is pretty messed up from a beating, and he is holding up a sign that says, “I abuse women.” Zoe quickly contacts her sister-in-law Sophia (Betty Gabriel). Nick’s sons, Ethan (Cameron Engels) and Kai (Jaylin Fletcher) are also watching this nightmare unfold on their phones. In fact, all their classmates are at the same time.
Horrified, the family contacts Detective Roshan Amiri (Phoenix Raei) of Missing Persons, but every lead he gets brings him to a dead end. The police are fighting against time because the kidnappers have Nick hold up a sign that he will be murdered when the number of views reaches 5 million views. You would think that people would stop viewing or commenting, right? But I think there is a touch of evil in all of us, and the dire situation only makes more people click on the site.
What Did Nick Do?
Luckily for me, I have sisters who think like Pia Brewer. We are first generation Italian American from South Philly. ..and we will hunt you down. And that is exactly what Pia does with the help of a patient who is also a computer wizard. What they discover on the web is that Nick has many dating sites under different names. One of the signs that Nick holds up claims that he murdered a woman from the dating sites. Is this true? As the family face the press, their neighbors, their friends, time is running out. Everyone turns against the family as more dirt comes out. There is even a hint that he sexually abused one of the players on the college soccer team where Nick teaches.
In the middle of this mess with both the police and Pia running down every clue and sighting, a woman claiming that she met Nick online and that they had planned to get married, shows up and talks to the wife. Emma Beesly (Jessica Collins) swears to both Pia and Sophie that Nick was her online lover. Then we learn that Sophie had an affair, and suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Pia even finds out who the murdered woman might be and learns that this woman was also an online victim of Nick’s and that she supposedly committed suicide on his suggestion.
Adrian Grenier does most of his acting in flashbacks, as he portrays his character as a loving son, brother, husband, and father…even though the dating sites portray him as anything but. The news stations do their own damage to the family with a unscrupulous reporter (Abraham Lim) steals the property of the girl who committed suicide. Was the dead girl’s brother responsible for Nick’s disappearance? When Nick’s body is discovered, the hunt for his killer or killers goes into high gear.
Each episode zeros on a different character in the series. Every time we are led to believe that we know who Nick really is and who killed him, we are deliciously sideswiped only to start our investigation from the beginning. I am telling you that I felt like I was actually working on the case. It isn’t until the very end of the final episode, that we learn the truth about Nick, his victims, and the person who caused this monstrous event to happen. Never saw this coming. Kudos to an excellent twist!
Like I said in the beginning, the harm done by other humans is more frightening than the scariest Freddy Krueger film. The last two years between Covid 19 and the elections, we have witnessed firsthand the evil deeds, and misinformation on Twitter, Facebook, and Tiktok that may have contributed to many lives lost. I’ve heard of children being hounded and bullied by classmates online. Some of these young victims have taken their own lives because of the uncontrolled bullying.
Watch Clickbait on Netflix. It is a well-done murder mystery where you get to play detective. And the next time you are tempted to post a crackpot, or scientifically unproven comment on social media…don’t. The next time you are tempted to bully someone on social media…don’t. It’s not nice being the monster.