This SXSW 2020 short features a literal troll haunting a teenager for Instagram likes.
It seems that Amazon’s attempt to move the cancelled SXSW films to Prime has kinda shit the bed. Many creators are pulling out due to Amazon’s less than generous payment structure and opaque promises, and Prime is apparently also not interested in hosting the short films. Into this breach has stepped a collaborative on Mailchimp offering virtually all of the nominated short films from SXSW2020.
My first pick was Double Tap, a funny and frenetic confection from actor/director Eros Vlahos. While most of the film’s bite comes from gleefully unsubtle commentary about internet culture, it keeps you locked in for its brisk two minute run.
Double Tap (2020)
A teen (Olive Gray) ignores a creepy post on Instagram, trolling for likes. From a literal troll. A troll who threatens to eat anyone who doesn’t Thumbs Up his post.
Vlahos’ film is all about economy. There’s no dialogue and just two different locations. The film dives into the exposition with just a few swipes: we see the image, cut to our protagonist scrolling away in disgust, and then cut to nighttime and the inevitable struggle where our troll looks to make good on his threats.
For all of the brevity, the film knows when to pause and soak in details. There are some great angles used in the bedroom scene as our heroine wakes up to a strange sound. With just a few cuts, Vlahos stretches out the reveal just long enough to drive tension and catch the viewer off-balance.
Apparently, this week we’re reviewing movies that supersize their horror with a side of comedy. The troll is just weird enough to be both scary and laughable. He wordlessly gesticulates at the girl, miming tapping the like button in a way that is both silly and definitely menacing. His attempts to grab our hero mostly fail to comedic effect, but by the end he’s definitely getting serious.
Oh. And he has no dick.
Not Hiding Much.
The gag at the center of this short is pretty obvious. It pretty much is just a thought experiment of “what if all those dickless, inept, online trolls were, you know, really dickless, inept trolls?”
Despite being obvious, the film is effective because it acknowledges the conflicting truths about online trolling: yeah, rationally we know most trolls are laughably impotent little shits…but they can still be scary. No matter how much you want to brush them off, you still have to take any encounter with them cautiously. This troll might be the one who doxxes you, or SWATs you, or shows up at your house one night with a gun.
That’s why there’s so damn many trolls online. All the pathetic harmless ones get to bask in a power fantasy due to the actual dangerous ones. So it’s no surprise that our dickless troll here is an object of mockery, but also an effective object of terror.