The Blue Whale challenge that cropped up a few years ago, was proven to be a hoax. Initially reported by various journalists as a social network challenge where participants were given a task list comprising 50 demands. Supposedly responsible for suicides all around the world, the last task was formulated to end it all. Other collective hysteria hoaxes like Momo and Fire Fairy have cropped up from time to time. None have proven to be the direct cause of any deaths. Why they start or are how they are such convincing anecdotes is probably why people give them so much credit. But as far as being fodder for ghost stories where everything is now online, it’s no wonder filmmakers are diving in headfirst. Subsequently, #Blue_Whale is one of a handful of these horror movies about this dark web internet danger.
#Blue_Whale is a film that plays out like the movie starring John Cho called, Searching. What the film does well is play out how and why a game like this could be orchestrated. If it were in fact a real death club, what might that look like from the inside? This suspense driven horror movie definitely gets to the crux of what teenagers deal with and how big everything seems at the moment it’s happening. The characters are likable and most of what happens when peer pressure and identity bear down is presented like a nightmare in its own right.
When Dana’s sister steps in front of a train, she wants to know how and why she did it. Beginning with a deep dive into the teenager’s internet history, she finds things that shock and disturb her. The film creates the character of Dana as an intelligent girl who is not easily convinced by social trends. Dana played by an extremely convincing Anna Potebnya is only ever undermined by the dialogue and plot holes she is forced to enter into.
Blue Whale is often overly reliant on quite a few well-known film tropes which only serve to make the movie predictable and at times zap its articulate tension. The script allows for Dana at one point to be institutionalized only to retain her trusty mobile phone. Her skill set also seems far more well rounded for someone her age. MacGyver level good, in fact. If of course MacGyver was a computer hacker.
Blue Whale isn’t a documentary though and as a horror and thriller movie, it is definitely entertaining. There are plenty of twists and turns that will keep the most enthusiastic fans at bay. The online world was created by writers Evgenia Bogomyakova, Olga Klemesheva, and Anna Zaytseva and it works. The addition of masked curators and Dana’s sleuthing for the admins of the Blue Whale group gave the whole story an extra level of interest.
Horror & Thriller Movie Tropes & Plot Holes
What surprises me most about films like this with cinematography etched out as if in front of a mobile device, is that it adds rather than takes away from the overall result. I can only imagine the technical side of creating films like this would be hard to pull off. Similar to many found footage films that fail for making some audiences suffer motion sickness, this too could fail in the same way. But it doesn’t. #Blue_Whale establishes plenty of underlying social commentary while documenting a really cool horror movie.
The film was played at 2021’s Fantasia Film Festival. Koch Media has acquired German and Italian VOD rights, and I’m sure this Russian language film will be scooped up elsewhere soon. For now, check out the trailer below and I’ll update this review as soon as we hear.
I give Blue Whale
3.5 trusting teens out of 5
Blue Whale Trailer 2021
DIRECTOR Anna Zaytseva
WRITER Evgenia Bogomyakova, Olga Klemesheva, Anna Zaytseva
CAST Anna Potebnya, Yekaterina Stulova, Polina Vataga, Timofey Yeletsky