Representing social media culture and online interaction in film is especially hard in this cynical day and age. While there have been a few successful depictions of the so-called “millennial lifestyle” in films like Unfriended and The Den, most attempts just come off as cringe-worthy. Luckily for us, David Chirchirillo’s extremely topical Bad Match is not only a believable take on the dark side of modern dating, but also a surprisingly effective thriller in its own right.
Starring Jack Cutmore-Scott as Harris, Bad Match chronicles a serial dater’s downward spiral as the remarkably clingy Riley, played by Lili Simmons, refuses to leave his life after a one-night stand. Things escalate as hacked social media accounts and anonymous accusations push Harris to the limits of his sanity, with the authorities refusing to believe that a seemingly normal girl could be behind this despicable online plot.
Bad Match may not be a traditional horror movie, but the thought of having your life ruined by just a few simple clicks is downright terrifying in this digital age. Though the film often uses fake social media apps and websites in an effort to avoid any possible legal issues, there’s an honesty behind the storytelling that makes Harris’ unfortunate troubles seem completely believable.
While the setup does sound pretty dire, the film has a lot of fun with the premise, cleverly juxtaposing comedy and tragedy in a unique balancing act. The movie is ultimately an unexpectedly humorous commentary on the impact that the internet can have on our daily lives. Thankfully, the story never gets preachy, with the savvy script acting as a cautionary tale without actively condemning anyone.
You can tell that the filmmakers relate to the subject matter, or have at the very least done their homework, as potentially embarrassing references to millennial culture (such as Tinder or Sonic the Hedgehog fan-art) are subtly woven into the story and don’t detract from the experience.
A flawed yet likable main character also helps sell the illusion, as Cutmore-Scott makes Harris a sympathetic figure throughout his struggles, despite sometimes acting like a jerk. Simmons is also incredibly watchable as Riley, as there’s a constant feeling that there’s more going on with her than meets the eye.
Despite everything it does right, Bad Match still has its fair share of flaws. There are a few scenes that tend to drag, with some disposable side characters and dialogue, and quite a few story-beats seem to be recycled from successful thrillers of the past. I feel that the film could have been a genuine classic if it had it gone the extra mile with its premise instead of relying on well-worn tropes. Either way, it’s still a fun ride, even if the end result is a little tame.
However, potential viewers may be divided by the ending, which could be interpreted as either exceptionally clever or a contrived mess depending on who’s watching. Personally, I think the final moments complemented the rest of the film, though I understand why some viewers wouldn’t be completely satisfied.
In the end, Bad Match is an entertaining thriller that manages to comment on pertinent social issues without coming off as self-righteous or feeling out of touch. It may not be the most original flick out there, but it’s certainly worth a watch, and will definitely leave you feeling suspicious of online dating for quite some time.
Bad Match will be available in limited theaters and on VOD platforms November 3rd!