Plot: Skylar (Morgan Taylor Campbell) is a master of social media, but she doesn’t use it to promote herself, instead she helps her fellow teens build online brands. Her latest client rose to hundreds of thousands of followers, but chose to leave Skylar’s side for a more professional manager. The betrayal sparked the violent side of Skylar, who put her former client into a coma, thanks to a push from a balcony. But it doesn’t take long for her to find a new pet project, as new girl at school Jessica (Abby Ross) has some real potential. Soon the two are inseparable and Skylar guides Jessica’s social media to new heights, getting her numerous new follows and a tidal wave of attention. Meanwhile, the threat of her old client emerging from the coma is a constant concern and her erratic behavior starts to raise eyebrows in some circles. Can Skylar keep her composure and make Jessica into a social media superstar, or will her inner rage take over and cause another violent outburst?
Entertainment Value: This is another Lifetime movie that warns of the dangers of social media, combined with the channel’s usual wild melodrama and some mean girl vibes that help round out the presentation. The narrative is over the top and the social media moralizing is over the top, though our voice of reason is stronger than usual, promoting moderation rather than pure dismissal. I had fun with Deadly Influencer, as it has all the Lifetime earmarks I look for, from the crazed melodrama to a manic psycho to over the top performances, as well as a plot rife with humorous oversights and a brisk pace that keeps you reeled in. I don’t think I’d rank it with my all time favorites from Lifetime, but it is a capable thriller that plays to the strengths of the genre, so it knows what Lifetime fans want and piles on those elements. If you’re after a grounded, believable thriller, then of course you likely won’t connect with this as much, since it is less logic driven and more fueled by melodrama. I mean, Deadly Influencer can be so over the top at times that you can’t help but laugh, which isn’t a complaint, since it always entertains and that is what matters. So if you appreciate the wilder side of Lifetime’s thrillers, this is one you won’t want to miss.
I’m sure by now Lifetime fans are tired of reading me talk about this, but to me, a great villain can redeem even the most routine of the channel’s thrillers. In the case of Deadly Influencer, the rest of the movie is up to snuff too, so Morgan Taylor Campbell’s wild performance just takes it all to the next level. She is of course, insanely over the top and that means there is some camp value, but she is also creepy and you believe she’d snap, so the psycho vibe is strong with this one. I think the crazy eyes help immensely, as far as making the unhinged moments seem believable, even if Campbell channels the melodrama into the stratosphere. I loved her performance and thought it was a total blast to watch, even in the calmer scenes. She has that barely masked insanity that creeps out in little bursts, then explodes with the fury of a thousand suns, great stuff and so fun for this kind of thriller. Abby Ross is likable and provides a solid good girl, not as naive or oblivious as most, which is nice. I was also happy to see Anne Dudek here and she gives us one of the more positively portrayed mothers on Lifetime, though given the channel’s track record, that is not super high praise. The cast also includes Avaah Blackwell, Matias Lucas, and Allison Graham.