Cyberbully movie full length review - A pretty engaging plot holds an effective and topical cautionary tale and advice
This short drama was promoted mainly off the attraction of Maisie Williams (she of Game of Thrones fame) and it was the reason I came to it.
I wasn't sure quite what the plot was, beyond the title laying out the subject area, and it was a nice surprise to find that it was several things, and because of this, they all worked pretty well. On the face of it we have a drama where two characters communicate across a computer ? one of whom we do not see, the other being the main character Casey. This starts slowly, and at first I was struggling with watching characters type to one another, but it got better once the text became voice chat, and the plot started to unfold.
Although it has issues that are not really resolved and did bug me a little, mostly the plot works. The elements where I felt I was just being asked to "go with it" were not always perfect, but it is the movement of the viewer within the plot that makes it engaging. Our sympathies change around slightly through the hour ? not really twists and turns as such, but it does move well. This working allows the drama to do something else ? which is to be a social message too, but to be one in a way that works and doesn't have people turning off because they feel like they are being preached at. It is a fine line at times, but mostly it manages to stay on the right side of it to produce a topical drama which stands as a cautionary tale that makes one thing about the issues.
The drama keeps it from being too heavy handed, and shifting the viewer round encourages thought ? not only of the drama, but of the subjects, which in turn then helps the social message aspect hit home more effectively. I am old enough not to have had to deal with the internet while at school, but I do feel for those who are born into that because it is so easy to have anonymous people tear at you for the sake of it; people like to label others trolls, but as with this drama, often just the culture of cruel comments and sarcasm from "regular" people is just as damaging.
The cast is limited to a handful of people, with Williams being the only person really in it for longer than a few scenes ? indeed I don't think she is ever really off the screen since the whole film is in real time and plays out entirely in her bedroom. She is excellent; delivering a lot with her face and really getting into her character ? it is not easy to hold the film up in this way, particularly when you are alone and acting at a computer screen, but she does it very well and contributes to making the plot work by virtue of her character. Of the others it is worth mentioning Haruka Abe. Although she only has a few scenes in videos online, she convinces at being cheerful and likable, while also being naïve, but more importantly she sells the change in her pretty well without over playing it; it is a small role but an important one and she does it well.
Cyberbully isn't perfect as a drama, but it works better than I expected and moves the viewer around nicely as well as being reasonably gripping. The social aspect benefits from this, as it delivers a thoughtful cautionary tale and advice, but avoids being preachy or alienating ? which is a difficult thing to do, so kudos to it for that.